Prehistory of Wall Art

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Prehistory of Wall Art

  1. 1. Prehistoric paintings – created in late Palaeolithic age, dated 40k years B.C. First paintings were discovered in XIX century but most important ones are from XX century i.e. cave Lascaux (1940). Most paintings consist of human and animal figures – often hunting scenes. Their strength and natural beauty are astonishing. Cold, solid rock was their canvas, where simple paints were used to mark contours of objects, sometimes filled with dark dyes. All dyes were carried in containers made of moss and sometimes sprayed with primitive bone tools. Paints – most of them were made of blood, mud, plant and animal dyes. Mix of these was very effective and impregnated with animal fat survived till today. Prehistoric “painters” creating their art were making a new stage in their history. They wanted to preserve their culture and themselves as something great and eternal. This concept was right. Prehistoric paintings are appreciated even now.
  2. 2. Modern artists came back to prehistoric painting techniques in XX century. Some expressionists were painting with their hands and Jackson Pollock was using paint spraying style.
  3. 3. In 1834 in Le Chaffud cave (Vienne, Florence) an animal bone was found, covered with sketches of two does. There wasn’t any indexing methods which could help with sorting newly found objects but discoveries in caverns brought a rush of inexperienced historians and self proclaimed archaeologists. In 1860-1870 researchers admitted that things found in caves were real prehistoric items. Le Chaffaud: Carved roe deer
  4. 4. Isturitz: Carved heads of the goat and horses
  5. 5. In 1879 Marcelino de Sautuola was searching for silicon tools in clay near Altamira cavern in Spain. His 5 year old daughter Maria noticed animals painted on a plain surface. Altamira:Bisons on the vault Altamira:Red bison on the vault
  6. 6. Although years passed before prehistoric art was considered as a fact of human culture, Maria de Sautuola is considered as a discoverer of this kind of art. In 1893- 1903 people discovered another paintings in caves between Rhone and Atlantic Ocean. In 1940 in Lascaux (Dordogne, France) archaeologists discovered a large set of animal paintings. Lascaux: Horses, excerpt of the composition
  7. 7. Lascaux: Horse, excerpt of the composition
  8. 8. Lascaux: Aurochs (male), excerpt of the composition.
  9. 9. Practically, this event showed to the whole world that prehistoric art is a part of our culture with very long history. Lascaux: Unicorn
  10. 10. Lascaux: Deer.
  11. 11. Lascaux: Swimming reindeer
  12. 12. The term prehistoric art is rather fluent. In 1952 Abbe Henri Breuil who devoted his whole life for this kind of art, published piece >400 centuries of cave art< in which he introduced division of prehistoric art for periods and development cycles. In 1967 Andre Leroi Gourhan in >Treasures of prehistoric art< showed new concepts of development of systematics in this art. Few years after discovering Chauvet cavern in Ardeche region near Rhone, Jean Marie Chauvet, Jean Clottes and their co-workers found out that this art can be placed between 32000BC to 75000BC. BP – [before present]; przed chwilą obecną.
  13. 13. Until now, traces of prehistoric art or rather Palaeolithic art were found in Europe, Africa and Australia. There are also few foundings in Asia and America.
  14. 14. Palaeolithic people probably had complicated system of beliefs and rituals, of course not universal, connected with daily life, which was used to decorate their tools, walls in caves with symbolic figures, mostly realistic but sometimes really abstract. Modern understanding of this system is still variously interpreted. We discover new techniques and dates of this art, layers of paintings, wall carvings, but, we still don’t know the connection between life of these people and symbols and meaning of art. We also don’t know why paintings and carvings were found only in particular caves. So, were these decorated in hard places caves holy grounds, temples of cults, galleries of art or schools of art? In Europe, there are about 130 caves decorated with paintings differing with each other and placed deep inside. Most of these caves are situated in France and Spain.
  15. 15. Gargas: Hands (negative) On walls of these caves painted outlines remained for the hand, symbols about the sexual pronunciation forcing itself, …
  16. 16. … but first of all animals: mammoths, buffalo, horses and goats, predatory bear, lions, leopards. Santimamine; Bear painted on the stalagmite.
  17. 17. Niaux: Bison. The early Style IV
  18. 18. In 1st half of XX century, earliest historians have divided late Palaeolithic into two main époques: Solutrean and Magdalenian (names came from two regions in France, Solutre and La Magdelaine).
  19. 19. Andre Leroi-Gourhan has marked four periods: Aurignacian, Gravetian, Solutrean, Magdalenian and he also divided styles defined by repeating characteristics of drawing. He stated that there was development of prehistoric art which was improving greatly over time with large transition periods.
  20. 20. Style I (35 000 - 25 000 BP) : All foundings with figures, from Aurignacian period to Gravetian period. Characteristics of these styles are carvings on stone blocks and first coordinated silhouettes with association of horse, ox, mammoths, female vaginas and male dots. Style II (25 000-19 000 BP) : From the ending of Gravetian period to the first phase of Solutrean. Large sanctuaries appearing in insides of caves but most of carvings and paintings were made on stone blocks and walls of rock shelters in sight of daylight. Animals were painted in profiled view with a sinusoidal neck line and disproportionate legs. [i.e.: Laussel (1909), Pair-Non-Pair (1881), Los Hornos (1903), Gargas Houtes-Pyrenées, (1911)].
  21. 21. Style III (19 000 - 16 000) : From the middle phase of Solutrean to the early Magdalenian period. Paintings and carvings are situated deeper inside of caves, where light cannot reach. The art of drawing, painting and colouring is mastered. Carvings are filled with manganian dye or coal. Animals are more realistic, “alive”, but still have too small legs and heads. [i.e. Lascaux (1940), Pech-Merle (1922, 1949), Cougnac (1949), Le Gabillou (1941)]. Pech-Merle: The horse and hand. On the left the other horse returned on the contrary and the second hand are .
  22. 22. Cougnac: Goat
  23. 23. Le Gabillou: The bison and the horse
  24. 24. Early Style IV (16 000 BP - 14 000 BP) : • Middle Magdalenian. Most of sanctuaries are situated in dark caverns, far from the entrance [i.e. Rouffignac (1947), Villars (1958), Niaux, Le Portel (1908), Les Trois Frères (1912), Le Tuc d'Audoubert (1912), Montespan (1881, 1923)]. Drawings of mammoths and reindeers are disappearing, most of them are now showing ox, horses, deer and goats. Other important caves are Teyjat (1903), Commarque (1915), Les Combarelles (1901), Font-de-Gaume (1901), Arcy-sur-Cure (1901), Marsoulas (1883), Las Monedas (1952), Tibiran (1951), Ebbou (1912, 1946). Rouffignac: Woolly mammoth
  25. 25. Le Portel: Bison
  26. 26. Niaux: Excerpt of the composition in the Round Chamber
  27. 27. Niaux: Bison with signs in the shape of arrows
  28. 28. Late Style IV (14 000 - 12 000 BP) : Late Magdalenian. Mostly additions of earlier styles are used. Horses, ox and deer can still be seen. New things added are birds, fish and spiky, harpoon symbols – possibly male symbolism. Ending Style IV : Late Magdalenian. End of Paleolithic art and switching to mezolithic stage. In this example, caverns in Porto Badisco (Sicilia), decorated with symbolic signs and figures of mezolithic hunters. Dated back to 6000 B.C.
  29. 29. Paleolithic art developed in a complicated way. It had periods of greatness and the appearance of various styles and motives. It disappeared with the ice age, about 12000-11000.
  30. 30. There is a whole section about Paleolithic art, which includes decorations of weapons, tools and ornaments. This last group can be labeled as cult art: figures, carvings in stone and symbolic cave paintings.
  31. 31. Lespegue: Figurine of the woman carved in the fang of the woolly mammoth; 15 cm of the height.
  32. 32. Laugerie Basse: Figurine of the woman carved in the fang of the woolly mammoth, so-called "Shameless Venus"; 8 cm of the height .
  33. 33. Laussel: Woman keeping the horn of the buffalo. Relief, 45 cm of the height;
  34. 34. Paleolithic decorations appear in two different locations: in stone shelters, where daylight was present and in underground caves. Decorated inside sanctuaries begin far from the entrance, that means they could be used for rituals and special events. If so, signs on walls were used for telling people where they should go and which places they need to avoid.
  35. 35. People seldom were shown in paintings. Signs which looked like vaginas or penises, penises specially as a decorations on weapons, appeared much more often. Some carvings show silhouettes of women bended forwards. It’s interpreted as a standard sexual position of Paleolithic women. La Roche á Lalinde: Schematic women's forms for slab of stone.
  36. 36. Men almost never appear, particularly in earlier periods. There is a famous painting in Les Troi Freres showing some kind of tribal shaman right above paintings of animals. Men with an ox head and a tail can be seen in Le Gabillou caves. Les Troi Frères: "Sorcerer", 75 cm of the height
  37. 37. Images of faces are rare, a well known image is one from the Marsoulas cave and from deco on a tool from late Magdalenian. Marsoulas: Human face, 20 cm of the height.
  38. 38. Silhouettes of men were sometimes painted with heads of animals. There are known carvings of “ghosts” which look like present caricatures of ghosts. Images of men are not grouped with images of women. There are only four known cases which break this barrier, one is from deco on a tool from La Magdelaine which shows a sexual act in the presence of a bear. La Magdeleine: Bear and the sexual stage
  39. 39. Sexual symbols are present in Paleolithic art, but they are very discret in erotic scenes. La Magdeleine: Erotic cave drawing of the woman
  40. 40. Sex was shown in various ways. For example, females were represented as triangles, ovals and rectangles, long legs and breasts. Males were shown as spiky lines, just lines or dots. Sometimes these symbols appear with each other. El Castillo: Red female signs affiliated with black thorny male signs
  41. 41. Symbols of hands can be seen very often. These signs were found in most of known caves. The hand found in Chauvet cave is probably the oldest decoration. Chauvet: Hand, negative
  42. 42. Leroi-Gourhan sees the cave art as something which can show supernatural meaning of environment, life, death, new life and also healing, hunting and war. Lascaux: Man killed by the bison; perhaps symbolic stage
  43. 43. In 1985 Henry Cosquer, a professional diver, discovered a narrow corridor, 37 meters below the sea level, near Marigou Cliffs. In 1991 he explored the whole cave, which was partially flooded. Its walls were covered with paintings and carvings. It was the first known underwater cave with prehistoric decorations. Cosquer cave in the diameter
  44. 44. In 1991, 1992 and 1994, three expeditions organized by Jean Clottes and Jean Courtin analyzed the whole cave. Marks of fireplaces were found on not flooded areas. The remains of clay pots with red dye, tools and primitive silicon blades were also found. Most important were decorations which show us that at least two periods existed in this cave. Cosquer: Hand put on the rope of fingers
  45. 45. Contours of hands were dominating, about 55 of them were grouped on multiple panels. Symbolism of smudging with fingers is not known. These smudges could have had esthetical meaning, be signs of “owners” of a cave or only primitive graphic. Cosquer: Hands
  46. 46. Meaning of hand prints is also not known. Even if they are universal in Palaeolithic art on all continents, most of hands (25) in Cosquer have uncomplete, shortened fingers. Earlier it was interpreted as ritualistic cut-offs or frostbites. Clottes and Courtin are stating that these are normal hands with fingers bended inside, it can be connected with methods of communication, hunting or rituals. Cosquer: Hands with incomplete fingers
  47. 47. Paintings and carvings of animals are grouped on panels, walls and vaults. Horses, goats, deer, ox, bison, bear, lion, three penguins, eight seals and even jellyfishes can be seen. There are also lots of unrecognized animals and harpoon like signs. Cosquer: Mountain goat
  48. 48. Cosquer: Reindeer
  49. 49. Cosquer: Mountain goat
  50. 50. Cosquer: The predator, the lion or bear
  51. 51. Cosquer: Auks
  52. 52. Cosquer: Jellyfish
  53. 53. There are about 48 images of horses in Cosquer. Cosquer: Panel of horses
  54. 54. Cosquer: Panel of horses
  55. 55. koń na stalagmicie, Cosquer: Horse painted on the stalagmite
  56. 56. horse painted on the low vault Cosquer: Horse on the vault
  57. 57. and put horse on of smearing fingers. Cosquer: Drawing of the horse
  58. 58. A marvelous head of ox can be seen on a vault. Other dynamic carving shows a charging bison. Cosquer: Bison
  59. 59. A special carving known as “Killed Human” can be seen on one of Cosquer walls. It shows a man, who was killed by a harpoon or a spear. Probably, he was killed in a tribe war or executed. Of course, each painting or carving, which was flooded by water, was destroyed. Cosquer: Killed man
  60. 60. In 1994, in Ardeche region (south Rhone valley), French archaeologists, Jean Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps and Christian Hillaire, discovered a small cave. They were the first people in 20000 years who entered this place. In its giant corridors they have seen stunning paintings. Stunning with quality, variety and count. The cave was named Chauvet and became the most beautiful in the world.
  61. 61. Chauvet: Fragment of the panel of hands
  62. 62. Paintings are grouped on panels and walls, there are panels of hands, horses, mammoths, lions, reindeer, lots of single images like bison, butterflies and headless birds. Chauvet: Panel of horses
  63. 63. Chauvet: Panel of horses
  64. 64. Chauvet: Panel of horses
  65. 65. Chauvet: European bison and rhinoceros on the panel of horses
  66. 66. Chauvet: Completely unique panel discussion of rhinoceros in the cave painting
  67. 67. Chauvet: Fragment of the panel of rhinoceros
  68. 68. Chauvet: Fighting rhinoceros
  69. 69. Chauvet: Fighting rhinoceros
  70. 70. Chauvet: Rhinoceros with huge horn painted in the rock niche
  71. 71. Chauvet: Panel with different animals; a small woolly mammoth is paying attention in the hot part of the painting
  72. 72. Chauvet: Fragment of the panel of lions
  73. 73. Chauvet: Woolly mammoth hill drawn on rock, opposite the chamber with the skull of bear
  74. 74. Chauvet: Bear in the Chamber Of a Bear
  75. 75. Chauvet: Signs of the butterfly
  76. 76. Chauvet: Fragment of the panel of reindeer
  77. 77. Chauvet: Bison on the panel of reindeer
  78. 78. Chauvet: Bison with scratching with claws of a bear
  79. 79. Chauvet: Bison on the panel of lions.
  80. 80. Near the pictures, carvings are present, also presenting horses, rhinos, mammoths and even an owl. Chauvet: The horse and two woolly mammoths engrave out in the prospect
  81. 81. Chauvet: Only known image of the night owl in the prehistorical art
  82. 82. In the beginning, 216 paintings were identified. Jean Clottes in his early work counted 47 rhinos, 36 lions, 34 mammoths, 26 horses, 19 bisons, 12 bears, 7 European bisons, 7 goats, 3 deer. In June 1999 the number of discovered animals rose to 447. Mammoths, rhinos and lions dominate in Chauvet “menagerie”. Lots of animals are shown in dynamic poses, in action. Toning, shading, smudging is used to obtain grading. Chauvet: Character set in the shape of the bison
  83. 83. Like in other caves, images of men are not present in Chauvet. In the entrance corridor, two hand panels can be seen, one with three negatives and five positives, the second with four negatives of hands. Next to the lion panel, anthropomorphic bison is painted, similar to the shaman of Les Trois Freres. Chauvet: Creature bison-man
  84. 84. Explorers found bear skulls and lots of partially crystallized bones on the “floor”. They found also places where bears hibernated. Chauvet: Skull of a bear on the block of rock
  85. 85. Cave Chauvet was more like a sanctuary than a living place. There is a small amount of normal objects inside. No fireplaces, only few tools and torches. In 1999 Jean Marie Chauvet discovered footprints of a 8-10 year old child (probably a boy) dated back to 30000-20000 BP. Those are the oldest footprints of homo sapiens in Europe.
  86. 86. Prehistoric art was present about 25000 years and it was the longest artistic period in our history. It was connected to daily life of paleolithic societies, hunters, shamans and normal people. After thousands of years and long period of inactivity it changed into religious symbols in Asia and came back to Europe (specially in Mediterranean region).
  87. 87. In these days, paintings seen on walls of buildings and walls are considered as vandalism (graffiti). So, where should we put prehistoric cave paintings? People of Palaeolithic ages were performing their art on walls, in living places. That is the real art. Paintings survived longer than anything and today they can show us how they hunted, what they did in their free time and how early homo sapiens lived. Art or vandalism? Definitely art.
  88. 88. Presentation they made: Małgorzata Wojciechowska i Patrycja Cichos from the class IIB
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