Connecting With The Cosmos: The Art Of The Stone Age
The History of Ar t I
Professor Will Adams
Events that occurred before written history.
This part of history is divided into three periods:
The Old Stone Age
The Middle Stone Age
The New Stone Age
Premise of Sympathetic Magic:
Everything in the universe is connected.
There is a direct correlation between the body and forces
Understanding these connections assists an individual
in the interpretation and manipulation of events.
It holds that physically connected objects can never be
Practitioners believe that any action against the part
constitutes an action against the whole.
Premise: “like follows like”.
The assumption is that a person will imitate the desired
behavior or achievement shown to them by religious or
There were two kinds of art produced during this time.
Parictal art: Paintings, sculptures & engravings found in
caves along the walls and the ceilings (these caves were
ceremonial sites, not for shelter).
Mobiliary art: Small, portable sculpted objects buried at
Found in Tarn, France · 11,000 – 9,000 BCE · Carved elk horn
Bison with Turned Head
Found in Tuc d’Audoubert, France · c. 13,000 – 8,000 BCE · Unbaked
clay modeled on living rock
Made of limestone
4 3/8” high
Naturhistorisches Museum in
Suggest abundant fertility and a
plentiful supply of food
Found in 1908
Venus is the classical goddess of
love and beauty
This “Venus” was sort of a joke: a
“failed Venus” – not feminine
She is seen as a fertility idol
due to the large breasts, the
vagina being indicated, and a
Some argue whether she is
wearing a hat or if it is
braided hair on top of her head
She was perfectly preserved
– never had feet
Arms are short and skinny
comparatively and hold the top
of her breasts
She doesn’t have a face
because this focuses on the
only parts needed for
“The magical force and
wonder of the female was no
less a marvel than the
universe itself, and this
gave to woman a prodigious
Primitive Mythology, Joseph
Venus of Laussel
c. 20,000-18,000 BCE
• The Laussel woman is one of the
earliest relief sculptures known.
• The "Venus" of Laussel was discovered
in 1911 by a physician named J. G.
Lalanne carved into the wall of a
limestone rock shelter in the Dordogne
region of France.
• The shelter, under an overhang, is a
terrace over 300 yards long which looks
out over the valley below. Although
originally thought to have been a
dwelling site, it is now believed it
served as a ceremonial center.
Venus of Laussel
Colored powders made from
organic substances such
as minerals or semi-
Pigments are mixed with
liquid (referred to as
medium, binder, or vehicle)
in order to be applied to a
That surface is known as
the pigment & medium’s
The Cosquer Cave is located near
It can be accessed through a
tunnel 574 feet in length, which
is 121 feet under the sea level.
The unique feature of this cave
is that it contains several dozen
works painted and engraved
between 27,000 and 19,000 years
It is decorated with a variety
of land animals, but also with
seals and auks, fifty-five hand
The submerged main chamber
measures 197 feet across.
The cave is more than
328 feet in diameter
when all the flooded
areas are included.
Marine animals are rarely found in
decorated caves from the Paleolithic era.
In the Cosquer Cave, they make up a
significant portion (11%) of the overall
number of figures.
Drawn or engraved in the rock are
penguins, seals, fish, and various figures
that may stand for jelly-fish or octopi.
Big-bellied horse painted in black 18,500
years before the present.
This black horse, about 26” long, is drawn
with simple lines although the legs are
Some details, such as the eye, the lower
jaw, and the mane done in parallel hatching
are well executed.
The fact that some knuckles are
missing has given rise to a certain
Mutilations, sacrificial rituals,
circulatory ailments or frostbite?
Although the fingers are incomplete, the
thumb is always intact on these hands
The most probable hypothesis is that
the hands were drawn with bent fingers
to represent a sign of greeting or a
This was probably associated with
hunting and various rituals, thus similar
to the silent language once used by
hunting peoples such as the Bushmen
and the Australian Aborigines.
Can I Get Your Digits?
The Chauvet Cave is one of the most
famous prehistoric rock art sites in the
Located in southern France, along the
bank of the River Ardeche, this cave
was only discovered as recently as
Chauvet Cave's importance is based on
two factors: firstly, the quality of the
cave paintings, and secondly, their
great age. With one exception, all of the
cave art paintings have been dated
between 30,000 & 33,000 years ago.
Not only is the Ice Age art of the
Chauvet Cave extremely old, it is also
very extensive and highly varied.
The wall to the right of the central
recess has a large number of
animals drawn on to it. The overall
scene depicts a hunt.
On the right of the composition
there is a rhinoceros and a
On the left, there are four bison
heads, and two more rhinos.
Then there are seven bison,
pursued by a pride of sixteen
lions, mainly depicted by their
c. 25,000 – 17,000 BCE
Black pigment on
Lascaux is famous for its paintings,
found in a complex of caves in the
Dordogne region of France, because of
their exceptional quality, size,
sophistication and antiquity.
Estimated to be up to 20,000 years old,
the paintings consist primarily of large
animals, once native to the region.
Lascaux is a complex cave with several
areas or galleries.
It was discovered on September 12,
The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures,
grouped into three main categories -
animals, human figures and abstract
Major galleries of the cave include: the Great Hall of the Bulls, the
Lateral Passage, the Shaft of the Dead Man, the Chamber of
Engravings, the Painted Gallery, and the Chamber of Felines.
Among the most famous images are four
huge, black bulls or aurochs in the Hall of
One of the bulls is 17 feet long - the
largest animal discovered so far in cave
Additionally, the bulls appear to be in
motion. There are no images of reindeer,
even though that was the principal source
of food for the artists.
A painting referred to as The Crossed
Bison, found in the chamber called the
Nave, is often held as an example of the
skill of the Paleolithic cave painters. The
crossed hind legs show the ability to use
Details of the Hall
of the Bulls
This ancient horse was called "Chinese" because of its resemblance to 3,000
year old Tang dynasty horses.
The Chinese Horse of Lascaux
c. 13,000 BCE
You will be given a sheet of paper, which you will affix to the underside
of your desktop with tape.
You will be given pigments in the form of crayons.
I will extinguish the lights in the room.
You will then use your pigments to “paint” your sheet of paper.
Your painting should depict someone or something you admire and
would like to imitate OR something you are grateful for
VERY IMPORTANT: Do NOT use any words, characters, or written
Be sure to work continuously throughout the allotted time, attempting
to fill all blank space with images that are as expressive you are
capable of creating.