Monday, November 1, 2010

Magical Paintings in Prehistoric Caves and All Saints Day

I have studied art history since my late teens, but never found a true appreciation for the magnificent cave paintings until mid-life.
Most cave paintings that have been discovered to date, depict extremely sophisticated, timeless renderings of animal figures. Very few cave paintings feature any human elements, although there are some drawings of human hands. Subject matter includes bison, bulls, horses, aurochs and other animals. A painting in Spain, dating back to the Last Ice Age, depicts reindeer.
The varied media utilized include ochre, oxides, hematite and charcoal. At times, the rock has been chiseled to enhance the painted image, bringing a 3 dimensional element.
It is believed that the caves did not provide human habitation. Most art historians and anthropologists theorize that the paintings were created as part of a shamanic trance during a magical or religious ceremony.  It is also believed that the cave paintings served as a form of communication.
Although there have been discoveries of over 350 cave paintings, my personal favorite remains the classic at Lascaux, France. This is the painting that is studied by all beginning art historians and art students.

The earliest known cave painting dates back about 32,000 years ago, although this date is in controversy. The particular site is known as Chauvet, and was discovered in Southern France. Chauvet is of particular interest because of the numerous cave bear paw prints and relics found there.
Chauvet's paintings were incised into the cave rock, and then painted.

Both of the above represent images found at Chauvet
Somehow, it seems appropriate that I write this post on November 1 - All Saints Day.
I have crafted my own life upon a foundation in art history. As many images and pieces that I have seen, studied, researched and written about, I always find my way back to the cave paintings. They are all incredibly beautiful and as contemporary as the most sophisticated abstract visuals that I see today.
They are magical and need for improvement.
In Love, Truth, Beauty....
Images courtesy of Wikipedia