Ancient Cave Art
Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, France 15,000-18,000 BC
Approximately 20,000 years ago, humans in Europe lived primarily as hunters. Out of this stone age culture, the mysteries of existence were becoming important and the result was the birth of mythology. Humankind sought to understand the world about them and to manipulate that world. Some turned to magic and mythology. The greatest manifestation of those ideas are found in the remarkable cave paintings at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc and Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc in France as well as Altamira in Spain.
These paintings represent a special moment in the minds of humans. The primary objects are animals and humans appear very rarely though fertility symbols are also common. The artists who drew these, were in awe of the animals and prayed they would be successful in hunting them.
This is the art of a hunting culture.
The art of the Aurignacian culture represents the first complete
tradition in the history of art, moving from awkward attempts to a
well-developed, mature style. The earliest examples of the small,
portable art objects produced during this period are from Western
Europe and consist of pebbles with very simple engravings of animal
forms. Later, animal figures were carved in pieces of bone and
ivory. At the same time, a tradition of true sculpture in the round
grew up in eastern Europe, with vividly realistic, though simple,
clay figurines of animals and highly stylized statuettes of pregnant
women, the so-called Venus figures, presumably fertility figures. In
the later part of the Aurignacian Period, a fusion of Eastern
sculptural and Western linear traditions occurred in the West,
resulting in small carvings of greatly increased naturalism; the
engraved details show attempts at foreshortening and shading with
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