If the first manifestations of prehistoric art are generally discrete and date from the end of the Middle Paleolithic, it does not really take off until the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic with the Aurignacian marking the first manifestation of figurative art. Thus, it is very diversified in its supports, its themes and its techniques. Find out why art began in prehistoric times?
Why prehistoric art?
Is the notion of art applicable to the graphic representations left to you by your ancestors? Aren’t you applying your 21st century reading to images from more than ten thousand years ago ? Don’t your current aesthetic criteria seem out of step with prehistoric achievements ? The reasons why hominids created the paintings are unknown and many theories have also clashed over time. One old theory that has been revived is shamanism. New hypotheses are also presented, such as that of myths, or recently, artistic naturalism. Along with totemism, these are the most commonly accepted hypotheses. It is also important to know that caves have their own particularities, style and animals. In art, the idea of progress means that old forms are inferior.
Theories on the meanings of prehistoric art
Prehistorians have considered that prehistoric art had a unique cradle and gradually evolved to become refined. The emergence of art in different parts of the world totally challenges this view. On the origins of prehistoric art, different theories are proposed to explain the great artistic boom of the Palaeolithic. Prehistoric man manifests the pure pleasure of painting and drawing. He also had artistic concerns. This theory cannot work for cave art, which is often in dark or inaccessible caves. It appears, moreover, in the second half of the 19th century, which is marked by the militant anti-clericalism of prominent prehistorians.
Media and techniques
Immovable art includes rock art, parietal art, petroglyphs, painting based on mineral pigments such as ochre earths, yellow and red clays, iron oxide, chalk and also organic pigments such as burnt bone black, charcoal black, etc. Furniture art includes tools and weapons, ornaments and jewellery that are attached to a garment or hung on the body. Painted line or carved line works consist of tracing details and outlines in a certain manner.