Thursday, June 30, 2011

Prehistory (pt. 3)

Two of the more famous cave painting sites are at Alta Mira, Spain, and Lascaux, France, to give you an idea of where on a map we're looking at.  The pictographs in Alta Mira are supposed by scientists to be from about 12,500B.C.  In Lascaux there is a famous pictograph of a horse, now called the Chinese Horse because other, almost identical drawings horses appear in Chinese art thousands of years later, during 969 to 1126A.D.  The cave paintings at Lascaux were discovered in 1940.
Many times these paintings overlap each other in layers, probably due to lack of more wall space.  This section of cave wall might show the work of not one but several generations of prehistoric artists.
Cave artists also utilized the shape and rough texture of the cave walls to help make their creations look more lifelike.  They sometimes painted in strategic locations so that the bumps on the surface of the wall passed for the animals' muscles.  To further show animals in a more three-dimensional way, artists made relief sculptures carved into stone, bone, ivory, etc.  A relief is a three-dimensional image whose flat background surface is carved away to a certain depth, setting off the figure.  Here are a couple of clay bison reliefs found at Le Tuc d'Audoubert in Ariรจge, France.

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