A Modern Face to Ancient Art:
To start the Fall lessons we began at the beginning, the Cave Paintings of Lascaux France ( 17,000 years old) and Altamira, Spain (40,000 to 50,000 years old). They are so monumental in the history of Art and an endlessly fascinating subject with so many aspects that are worth investigating. We compared numerous caves throughout the world, that share similar symbols and markings which were the origins of language, alphabets, and communication. Ironically, with all of the developments throughout history that led to printing, books, literature, and education on a mass level, we are now back to communicating by symbols via texts which use some of the same symbols found in the caves.
Some of the most interesting aspects of Cave Art are the discoveries of techniques and materials that have lasted throughout thousands of years. The class experimented replicating original materials by mixing pigments from berries and flowers, and painting and drawing with feather quills, plants, and sticks, charcoal, and chalk. Their experiments culminated in the creation of contemporary mixed media monoprints inspired by the early cave artists. It was a multi-layered process that incorporating some of the original symbols and a variety of techniques and materials.
This was the first of several lessons about putting a modern face on ancient art as we looked at contemporary artists that have been influenced by the same images and subject matter found in indigenous art. Franz Marc, Picasso, and Leonardo Da Vinci frequently used horses and bulls in their drawings that were very similar to some of the images found in the cave paintings. The enduring legacy of the earliest artists can be seen today in the resurgence of art reflecting the primal and universal images found in nature.