Saturday, April 02, 2011



Back in June 2009, THE GENERALIST published the first of a series of posts on Ancient Art which concluded with the following:


'A frieze of horses and rhinos near the Chauvet cave’s Megaloceros Gallery, where artists may have gathered to make charcoal for drawing. Chauvet contains the earliest known paintings, from at least thirty-two thousand years ago.'

Read this fantastic New Yorker piece on cave art.
'First Impressions: What does the world’s oldest art say about us?' by Judith Thurman

Turns out that Werner Herzog was equally impressed by the article and this remarkable 3-D movie is the result. Discovered for the first time in 1994, in the cave of Chauvet - Pont D’Arc in southern France, these hundreds of remarkable paintings have been carefully preserved, with access limited to a very small number of scientists. Under strict conditions, Herzog was given permission to film for a limited period, using the minimum of lighting. The special 3D cameras has to be assembled inside the cave itself. Herzog brings his usual high-quality intelligence and film-making acumen to work on these limitations and has created a genuinely profound and moving experience. Truly remarkable.

There is a good Wikipedia entry on known cave paintings around the world- in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

Lascaux was discovered on September 12, 1940 by four teenagers, Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, as well as Marcel's dog, Robot.

Altamira was the first cave in which prehistoric cave paintings were discovered. When the discovery was first made public in 1880, it led to a bitter public controversy between experts which continued into the early 20th century, as many of them did not believe prehistoric man had the intellectual capacity to produce any kind of artistic expression. The acknowledgement of the authenticity of the paintings, which finally came in 1902, changed forever the perception of prehistoric human beings.


This is one  a a series of eleven lithographs entitled Bull, 1945-6 where Picasso deconstructs the academic image of a bull - with its line, shape, shading and form - and with each plate he abstracts it until the final image where it is just line.  Source: The Lighthouse Keeper

According to Paul Bahn in his paper ‘A Lot of Bull? Pablo Picasso and Ice Age Cave Art’:

‘Many claims have been made, and continue to be made, concerning Picasso’s reaction to Ice Age cave art – in particular, it is said that he visited either Altamira or Lascaux and declare that “we have invented nothing” or that “none of us can paint like this”. The paper investigates these claims and finds that they have absolutely no basis in fact. Picasso was minimally influenced by Ice Age art and expressed little interest in it.’


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