Mannequin Hands: Gesture, Surrealism and Damage

I was in Paris for a couple of days to attend the opening of the Women Street Photographers exhibition at 59 Rivoli Gallery. As I was walking back to Gare du Nord to catch my Eurostar train, I noticed the mannequin hand in a men’s clothing store. Three fingers were broken, and just the thumb and index finger remained, giving me the illusion that it was pointing down at something.

I’ve blogged on mannequins on numerous occasions but this time wants to focus on hands. Here are a few images from previous travels.

A couple from Ibiza in 2013. I like the gestures in these images; to me there’s something quite lyrical, sensual and mysterious about the way they interact with each other and with the presence of the legs in the frame:

A geometric abstract featuring a single mannequin arm – the hand and fingers suggestive of an elegant dancer mid movement. New York 2015:

Below, a more surreal shot featuring dismembered mannequin hands at a jewellery stall in a San Francisco market, 2018:

Closer to home, a play of hands at a Bond Street designer boutique:

A nail bar with a mechanical hand. The chairs are also giant hands which compounds the sense of futuristic surrealism:

A reflective mannequin hand in London’s Old Compton Street, 2021:

Vintage wooden mannequin hands at an antiques market in Portobello Road, 2012:

Round the corner from Portobello in London’s Golborne Road, a couple of mannequin casualties, 2014:

Next a series of images taken during lockdown where the mannequin hands and arms have caught my attention:

I like the gesture on the left hand side of this image – the mannequin hands appear to be reaching out to touch and connect:

One from my series of images on the demise of high street giant, Top Shop, 2021:

A mannequin arm is finely cracked, reminiscent of spidery thread veins:

And finally a mannequin where the hands appear to have been severed off, the wrists taped with masking tape. When I initially encountered this during lockdown, I got the strong sense that it was a representation of woman as survivor:


Also published on Medium.

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