Introduction to World Art & Culture
Introduction to World Art & CultureTopic: LASCAUX CAVE PAINTINGSMade byNeha SinghNIFT Kolkata
September 12, 1940. A warm afternoon in Dordogne, in South-western France. Four boys and their dog, walk along a ridge covered with pine, oak and blackberry brambles. When their dog begins digging near a hole beside a downed tree, the boys tell each other that this might be the entrance to a legendary tunnel running beneath the Vzre River, leading to a lost treasure in the woods of Montignac. The youngsters begin to dig, widening the hole, removing rocks, until theyve made an opening large enough for each to slip through. One by one, they slide down into the earth and emerge into a dark chamber beneath the ground.They have discovered not merely another place, but another time. In the cool dark beneath the sunlit world above, the boys found themselves in a vast series of caves, today collectively known asLascaux, covered with wall paintings that, by some estimates, are close to 20,000 years old.
The Cave of Lascaux lies in the western edges of the Massif Central plateau *middle of the southern France*. The cave paintings were made by the Palaeolithic man and were preserved for many centuries due to the rock shelters. The trees and forests on the hills preserved the caves from weathering.
35,000 B.C. to 30,000 B.C.The Chatelperronian culture started the work of painting in the La Ferrassie cave and the Chauvet cave.30,000 B.C. to 25,000 B.C.Aurignacian culture took over the work and completed the work on the sites at La Ferrassie and the Chauvet caves, but also started three more sites, La Greze, Cosquer and the site which is referred to as, Pair Non Pair.25,000 B.C. to 20,000 B.C.Sites of La Greze and Pair Non Pair were completed by the Gravettian culture. During this same time period, the Gravettiens completed another cave art, which is known as the Laussel.20,000 B.C.Existing for a very short period, around 20,000 B.C., the Solutrean culture worked on a site by the name Laxc aux. This culture also worked on the expansion of the site at Cosquer. It is known as the Cosquer II20,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C.The Magdalenian culture completed its work on the sites of Cosquer II, Laxc aux, Les Toris Freres, Cap Blanc, Niaux and La Mairie. The Magdalenian culture was the greatest contributor to the Cave of Lascaux.10,000 B.C.The Azilian culture completed the site of La Marie
The timeline of the Cave of Lascaux is rather curious, due to the presence of artworks of many cultures in the cave. (A Culture was a settlement that led to the concept of villages or a large group of families living together)
Purpose Despite 70 years of research and analysis the exact meaning and purpose of the Lascaux Cave paintings remain a mystery.
Some of the study paintings reflect visions seen by the artists when they were in a trance - like state. Others theorize the art work is an account of hunting successes. Some see it as part of a ritual to improve future hunting. Some say that the clusters and dots within the images correlate the constellations of Taurus , the Pleiades and the grouping known as the Summer Triangle. The placement, together with enormous size and compelling grandeur of the paintings , suggests that the remote chambers may have served as sacred or ceremonial meeting places.
Layout of Lascaux CaveThe entrance leads directly into the main chamber called the Hall of the Bulls. This leads to the slightly smaller Axial Gallery (or Painted Gallery) (a dead end), or the Passageway, both of which are heavily decorated with varioustypes of art, including paintings and engravings. The Passageway leads to the Nave and the Apse (both adorned with images), and then the Mondmilch (Moonmilk) Gallery, with its crumbly undecorated rock surface and, finally, the painted Chamber of the Felines.
Hall of the Bulls (aka Rotunda)The Hall of the Bulls - probably the world's most famous underground gallery ofPaleolithic art- is 19 metres (62 feet) in length and varies in width from 5.5 metres (18 feet) at the entrance to 7.5 metres (25 feet) at its widest point.
This is the entrance of the cave. These frescos represent many animals, including horses, bulls, deer, ibex, cats, a rhinoceros, and even the legendary unicorn. These pictures are accompanied by enigmatic signs and some human representations, such as a man facing a charging bison, raising new questions about the perception of our prehistoric ancestors.Entrance of the caveBulls and Horse with Stags
BisonUnicorn Bison, bull , half horse and Stags (down)Horse painted over a bull and small horses
It showcases 161 images, of which 58 are mostly animals and the rest are geometric forms. There are drawings on each side of the chamber, featuring the Chinese Horses, the Falling Cow and the Upside-Down Horse.
It features images of many horses, ibexes and bisons totalling 385 figures.
It hosts over a thousand drawings, 500 animals and 600 geometric forms, which makes it a dense display of art in a small space. Apse holds an immense 8.2-foot wide engraving in its midst. the Apse is likely to have been the sacred heart of Lascaux. Almost every square inch of its limestone walls and ceiling are covered with engraved drawings.
It only contains eight figures, but theyre some of the most intriguing in the entire cave. Indeed here is where the Scene of the Dead Man is located and its the only painting that may include a narrative.This scene contains abison and a dead man The man wears a bird mask of some sort and appears to be dead or lying down very rigidly and is the only representation of a human in this cave.
The NaveThe Nave measures eighteen metres (59 feet) in length, and averages 6 metres (20 feet) in width. Notable areas of decoration include: the Panel of the Imprint (noted for its accompanying symbols and signs), the Panel of the Great Black Cow (regarded as the most beautiful scene in the cave
The Chamber of the Felines
About 30 metres (100 feet) long, the Chamber of the Felines differs from Lascaux's other galleries by its narrow dimensions and steep gradient which makes movement difficult. It includes a number of cats. In addition, there are a number of horses, and signs. Notable images include: the cats in the Niche of the Felines, and an engraving of two lions mating.
Materials Used and Techniques*reduced to fine particlesArtists had to select or hand-craft the tools necessary for engraving and painting, then collect the charcoal, minerals and other raw materials needed for colouration.Thecolour pigmentsused to decorated Lascaux, and other French caves, were all obtained from locally available minerals. This explains why the prehistoric colour palette used by Palaeolithic painters is relatively limited. It includes black, all shades of red, plus a range of warm colours, from dark brown to straw yellow.Nearly all pigments were obtained from minerals, earth or charcoal. The painted and drawn figures were painted with colours obtained from powdered metallic oxides of iron and manganese.The Lascaux artists employed crude crayons on the smoother walls. Mined mineral pigments mixed with animal fats and plant juices produced rudimentary painting sticks.Artists did not use paint brushes thus, in all probability, the broad black outlines of the figures were created with mats, pads or swabs of moss or hair, or even with blobs of raw colour.Engraving, probably the most common artistic technique used involved scratching away the outer layer of rock, which generates a difference in colour.
YEARDISCOVERY1948-1963Daily tours of the cave started attracting thousands of visitors each year1963The cave was closed to the public after signs of deterioration appear, caused by the excess amount carbon dioxide produced from the breath of visitors.1979The Lascaux cave and several other painted caves in the area were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.1983After 11 years of work by local artist Monique Peytral and other painters and sculptors, Lascaux II opened near the original cave. It featured replications of some of the paintings and became a popular tourist destination.2012-2013In October, 2012, a new exhibition on the Lascaux cave paintings opened in Bordeaux, France. It featured high-tech replications of many of the paintings, including some never before seen by the public
Continuation of timeline.....