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Four Hands
© Bill Viola

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Four Hands 2001

Not on display

  • Artist Rooms
The hands of three generations are seen in this work – a young boy, father, mother and grandmother. Slowly and deliberately, the four pairs of hands are shown forming a series of predetermined movements. These are taken from sources as diverse as Buddhist mudras (defined ritual or symbolic gestures) and 17th-century English chirologia tables, which illustrate hand gestures that accompany emotional states. Viola explains that the work is “a timeline that encompasses both the parallel actions of the individuals in the present moment and the larger movements of the stages of human life.” It is part of a series called 'The Passions', which is inspired by early European devotional paintings and explores human emotions.


  • Acc. No. AR00043
  • Medium Video, 4 flat screens, black and white
  • Size 23.00 cm x 130.00 cm x 20.50 cm
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008