the stone age paleolithicmesolithicneolithic the birth of art: africa, europe and near east the...


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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Waterworn pebble resembling a human head Makapansgat, South Africa ca. 3,000,000 B.C Can this image be considered art? This represents the earliest evidence of human recognition of abstract images in the natural environment, if not the first example of what people generally call art. Discovered in 1925 in a cave at Makapansgat in South Africa. This image is nearly 3,000,000 years older than the first intentionally manufactured sculptures. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Animal facing Left Apollo 11 Cave, Nambia ca. 23,000 B.C The oldest African paintings were portable objects, due to the nomadic culture. This image is one of seven fragments of stone with paint on them found in the Apollo Cave in Namibia. The earliest paintings depict images of animals such as this one. Paleolithic paintings almost always depicted animals (Bison, Mammoth, Ibex, and Horses) PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Human with feline head Hohlenstein-Stadel, Germany ca. 30,000 - 28,000 B.C The first sculptures of Western Europe are even older than the painted plaques of Namibia. This image is an example of one of the earliest sculptures discovered to date. This sculpture was carved out of mammoth ivory and stands nearly a foot tall (truly huge for its era) The real reason for the existence of this sculpture is still uncertain. Historians can only speculate as to its purpose and function. Historians are certain, however, that a sculpture such as this would have been of great importance due to the fact that it would have been very hard to obtain such a large piece of mammoth ivory. It would most likely have taken several days of skilled work to create such a sculpture. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Venus from Willendorf Willendorf, Austria ca. 28,000 - 25,000 B.C This is one of the oldest and most famous of the prehistoric female figures. This image is no more than four inches tall, yet it has become an icon in the history of art. It is suggested that this image served the purpose of fertility due to its anatomical exaggeration, but it is still only a speculation. Small figures such as this were carved from naturally shaped rocks. The central point in the design, the navel, is a natural crevice in the rock PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Woman holding a bison horn Laussel, Dordogne France ca. 25,000 - 20,000 B.C This sculpture represents one of the earliest relief sculptures known This image was found as a part of a 140 cubic foot stone block that stood in the open air in front of a Paleolithic rock shelter. Today it stands on display in a museum divorced from its original context. The artist would have chiseled out the female form from the rock, and would later add the ochre color to the body of the figure. The figures raised right arm holds a bison horn and the left arm rests upon the exaggerated mid section. It is speculated that this sculpture, like the woman from Willendorf, is some sort of fertility figure. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Two bison relief in a cave Arige, France ca. 15,000 - 10,000 B.C These relief sculptures were found in the cave at Le Tuc dAudoubert and represent relief sculpture carved from clay rather than stone. These bison are sculpted in strict profile, as to give more visual information to the viewer. Each of these bison are over two feet long and are among the largest Paleolithic sculptures known. It is assumed that the artist brought the clay into this cave and modeled it by hand into the shape of the bison. Once the clay had dried, it is thought that the artist engraved the facial features and manes with a stone burin. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC The cracks in the clay are a result from the drying process and most likely occurred within a couple of days of the sculptures completion.
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Bison with turned head Dordogne, France ca. 12,000 B.C When artists chose to use antlers and horns as their medium for sculpture, they were forced to work on a very small scale. This particular sculpture is only about four inches in size. This is considered one of the finest works from the Paleolithic Era. This image was carved from a reindeer antler with a very sharp tool. Notice the extreme detail for the era as you look at the eyes, nostrils, mane, and ears of the bison. The artist gives us much more information than any of the other works discussed to this point. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC Especially noteworthy is the twisted and turned head of the bison. It could be that the artist did this to save space on such a small sculptural area. Whatever the reason for this twisted perspective, the artist manages to give us a strict profile view of the animal that contains clarity as to the characteristics of the bison.
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Bison (detail of painted ceiling) Altamira Santander, Spain ca. 12,000-11,000 B.C Images were incised or painted onto rock and often used the natural projections of the rock to fit the drawing The bison is lifelike due to shading and roundness. Painted from ochre and ash from the surroundings- used as much as 3 colors These paintings were discovered by the daughter of the owner of the estate that contained the cave. She was with her father in the cave when they reached the chamber containing these images about eighty five feet from the caves entrance. The authenticity of these images was officially dismissed at the Lisbon Congress on Prehistoric Archeology in 1880. By the end of the century the skeptics were convinced that these images were, in fact, authentic due to the other caves that had been discovered with mineral deposits that would have taken thousands of years to accumulate. These images of the animals, just as those of the plaques from Namibia, are painted in profile. The unique thing about the images in this cave is the perspective that the artist gives. Notice the aerial view. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Spotted horses and negative handprints Pech-Merle France ca. 22,000 B.C It is speculated by art historians that these spotted horses may not have had spots at all. They claim that those spots may actually represent rocks that were thrown at the animals in the hunt. (Notice that the spots appear within as well as around the animals.) Is it possible that these images were created to ensure the success capturing and killing these animals using rocks as weapons? The representation of human hands on the walls of the cave are very common. Often those hand prints are negative images that are created by blowing pigment over the hand while it rests on the surface of the cave. Some scholars believe the handprints to have been the signatures of cult or communal members. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC The natural shape of the rock often dictated the images that would be created on the walls of the caves. Notice the shape of the rock where the horses head is located and how seamlessly they fit together.
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Hall of the Bulls (left wall) Lascaux,, France ca. 15,000-13,000 B.C The images found on the walls of the Lascaux caves are some of the best known Paleolithic images. Images are often drawn far inside the caves, away from entrances. (Sometimes hundreds of feet from the entrances) Scholars believe that these images were produced as part of a magic ritual. The images were superimposed- (no separation between image and reality) Once the animal has been killed, the spirit has been killed and a new animal is drawn on top The purpose of the drawings was to lure animals for the hunt (they were scarce) PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC The caves of Lascaux demonstrate the two techniques used in Paleolithic painting. Some of the walls (like the image above) consisted of outlines only, whereas some of the other images contained a degree of modeling through the use of colored silhouettes. These differences in style and technique suggest that the images were painted in different times.
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  • THE STONE AGE PALEOLITHIC Image gallery Aurochs, horses, and rhinocerouses Chauvet Cave,, Vallon Pont dArc,, Andch France ca. 30,000-28,000 or 15,000- 13,000 B.C The images on the walls of this cave represent the worlds earliest dated paintings. These images were not discovered until December of 1994 and were promptly named after the leader of the exploration team, Jean-Marie Chauvet. Radio-carbon Dating, which measures the degeneration of carbon 14 in organic material, determined that these images were more than 15,000 years older than those found in Altamira. These images caused scholars to re-evaluate the scheme of stylistic development from simple to more complex forms that had been nearly universally accepted for decades. PALEOLITHICMESOLITHICNEOLITHIC Until 1994 it was believed that Paleolithic art evolved from a primitive form to a more sophisticated one. Is it possible that years from now, new discoveries will disprove other theories that art historians have accepted about the art of the Paleolithic era?
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