Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 4 Blog Post

When I think of illustration, I usually don’t think of cave paintings for some reason. But I was looking up vintage illustrations and I started to wonder about even older art, so this is what I came across. These paintings are from the Ice Age and are in a cave in Southwest France. The materials used to make it are natural pigments and charcoal.

When I’m in Art History we talk a lot about wealthy patrons paying famous painters money to create these beautiful paintings so they can hang them in their homes. And while I respect that practice, it seems interesting to consider that cave paintings (while we can’t know exactly what their purpose was, when they often lack a written word to explain them) could have easily had great significance in documenting what animals were around to hunt, paying homage to who killed what animal, keeping a historical record to remember a person’s life with, telling legends, and in general expanding upon what the human imagination could do.

I’ve read somewhere before, that ancient hunter gatherer societies actually had a lot of free time. It seems interesting to imagine that as soon as people were fed and had shelter, they thought; “Hey, let’s crush up this flower and make lines with it on the wall!” And thus, art was born.


  1. Come to think of it, that's actually a pretty striking image: light and dark guide the eye through the piece just right, there is a certain illusion of depth, and, hell, I just like it. Must be subconscious.

    Do you know where, geographically, it is from?

  2. This is a very great image of the piece. It's true, the lighting is fantastic. I have always loved looking at cave paintings because it is amazing to think about how they made them. I think the line work is very interesting, the way they depicted the fur is clever and how they showed the bulls muscles is intriguing.

  3. The craziness involved in making these wall paintings is intense, and a bit unappetizing. They are actually airbrushed, okay I am being very generous with the term but for the most part it is true. They would chew ash, clay, flowers and other natural materials and spit it as a fine mist onto the walls of the caves. How did they get those clean lines? They used their hands as impromptu stencils. Pretty much low tech graffiti.

  4. If anyone's wondering, this painting is from Dordogne in Southwest France, but my source wasn't specific on which cave. It's one of these: Font-de-Gaume, Bernifal, Lascaux II, Rouffignac, Cougnac, or Peche Merle. All of those caves have ancient paintings; they might be cool to check out.