During the 1920s and 1930s, Gordine worked on a series of sculptures that represent the physiognomic characteristics of different races. The idea that people from other cultures can be studied as depersonalised ‘types’ reflects the racist, colonial attitudes of the time. It can also be linked to the nineteenth century fascination for phrenology, a study of the shape of the human skull to discover character traits and mental disposition. Gordine probably made this head in Paris, drawing on popular ideas about Mongolia rather than direct observation and experience.
Dora Gordine was born in St. Petersburg in 1906 and died in London in 1991.