The most famous French prehistoric caves are the Lascaux Caves. They are 16 000 years old. They were discovered in 1940 by 4 teenagers who were looking for their dog. They were open to the public for years till they were closed in 1963 to preserve their Art. The Art was being damaged by the carbon dioxyde and then by the fungus that developed after the French State installed an air-conditioning system. The cave and its drawings were recreated at 90% close by.
Jean-Marie Chauvet and other speleologues discovered the Chauvet Caves in 1994. They have never been opened to the public. They did not want to repeat the same mistakes as the Lascaux Caves. They are 30 000 years old although there have been some disputes over the dates. Ownership of the art: the art does not belong to the owner of the land, nor to the people who discovered it. The owner of the land were expropriated and the caves are now property of France.
And more importantly, why did they create it? Why this need already to make art?
This is an extract of the Hall of the Bulls. You can observe red and black horses painted with a large auroch (bull species).The artist played with dark and light as well as dots to make him stand out from the bull and the other horses. The artists used charcoals from their fires and earth pigments of iron and manganese to create the colors. Why do you think they were not erased during all these years? One of the bull is 17 feet long (5 meters).
The upper part of the walls and the ceilings of the Lascaux Caves are all painted. Visitors could see mostly oxen, horses, and aurochs. One of the most famous painting are the Chinese horses, represented here surrounded by red cows. Look at how the painting of the cow is not finished. Look at the details of the horse mane. Caveman are always presented as being primitive but their motor skills were developped when you look at this paintings.
What does this say about the relationship then between the man and the auroch? .Humans are rarely represented in the caves. You can see the dots and lines: this sign is often represented in the cave, can it be the artist’s signature? Can they be numbers? Compare the quality of the animals drawings and the human drawing. The location of this painting is well hidden in the cave: forbidden art?
There are three reindeers who are swimming. They can not be found in the Southern France right now but they were living there at that time. Here we can see a detail of one the reindeers. What do you think of the lines and the details? It appears to have been drawn quickly compared to the other paintings. The painting is 10 feet from the floor.
Something characteristic to the Lascaux Art is the notion of movement that the artist gives to his drawing. You can really imagine the horse running. Are these signs harpoons or plants? Notice that flowers and plants, as well as grounds are not represented in the cave art.
The animals in the Chauvet caves are mainly horses, rhinos, bears, mammoth, stags, and even an owl. One animal, a auroch, was made out of dots, precursor of the pointillism. They also use perspective and shading. This panel of horses actually shows some perspective, showing some animals on the same plane. They used smudging to produce the shadows and somebody who entered the cave said that the artist had highlighted the outer edge of the drawing by chiseling into the white rock surface.
You can see a lot of horses in the caves. In this particular photo, you see one horse painted under the other horses. You see many of them as the horses were living in groups. They were not domesticated and they were not hunted. The artist used charcoal to paint them. You can see a lion on the right, the artist has used the rock to put in perspectibe.
. You can actually see the horses and now we have the rhinos charging each other. Rhinos facing each other is unique in paleolithic art. We can also tell that artists were not equal already then. Different degree of mastering the techniques.
This is an auroch. The drawing looks like it has been done on top of another drawing or sketching. The auroch was bigger than our bull and disappeared in the XVIIth century. That’s when you realize that their art is the photograph book of their time.
The Ibex does not exist anymore. IT may have been a cousin of the impala.
Here you can see a bear. The artists did not live in the caves, but the bears did. The traces on the wall may have been left by bear paws. The bear lived there in winter and the humans came in the summer. Maybe the traces left by the bears inspired the artist to draw them… You can see what looks like a rhinoceros. They did not hunt these animals, they drew animals that they thought were powerful.
The artist drew them as if they were standing in a row. He created the lines so that we have no doubt that there is more than one animal. Some part of the rock have been scraped (on top of the rhinoceros) to make it stand out.
Carving - one of an owl also exists in the cave. You can actually see the white rock underneath. The carving is less detailed than the painting. They used silex to carve.
The owl can only be found in Chauvet. It has been traced on a softer layer of the wall. The height is 30 centimeters (approx 12 inches)
“ The Panther Panel” - Chauvet Cave, The bigger animal has the outline of a bear but the spots of the hyena. The smaller one is clearly an hyena. Again, not all artists have equal talent.
“ The Panther Panel” We find the same perspective, the preparation of the walls (white rock), and the nice details of the panther faces.
This is a stencil of a hand. A similar technique was found in Argentina, in las Cuevas de las Manos where hundreds of hands stencils were found in a cave (9000 BC). This is called ‘negative’ hand stencil: they put their hand on the wall, and then blow some paint on their hand, leaving some painting on the wall and the white handprint.
Pech Merle is in the Midi-Pyrenees and is one of the few prehistoric cave paintings that are still open to thepublic. Look how they take advantage of the natural shape of the rock to create the head.
Altamira is considered the :Sistine Chapel of paleolithic art. Compare this auroch to the aurochs you saw and appreciate the difference in details. This auroch was painted on a ceiling.
Lascaux Cave Art6th Grade Lms
A Journey into Prehistoric Art of the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves of Southern France, and others… Paleolithic Picassos?
Where are the caves? How were they discovered and when? <ul><li>And…there are other places in the world where painted caves exist! </li></ul><ul><li>Like Spain, South America, Australia, etc… </li></ul>
The Artists <ul><li>Lived approx. 17,000 to 30,000 years ago during the Stone age and the Ice age </li></ul>
How did they create the images? <ul><li>Using bone, sticks, brush made with animal hair, hands/fingers, and sharpened rocks </li></ul><ul><li>Paints came from the earth - crushed and mixed with cave water to create color </li></ul><ul><li>Dark caverns were lit with torches and prehistoric lamps: made with animal fat, etc etc </li></ul><ul><li>In Lascaux, scaffolds and ladders were built to get to the high points. </li></ul>
What did the artists paint? <ul><li>Why did they paint and carve on the cave walls? </li></ul><ul><li>Did they live in the caves also? </li></ul><ul><li>What evidence of human life do we see in the caves? </li></ul>
What is the significance? <ul><li>What is represented in these paintings? </li></ul><ul><li>Why are there so few images of humans? </li></ul><ul><li>How does this artwork reflect life of prehistoric peoples? </li></ul>