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Art-111 Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Prehistoric Art in Europe

Lora Davis

on 28 August 2018

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Transcript of Art-111 Chapter 1

The period that follows the introduction of metalworking is commonly called the Bronze Age. Metals made an appearance about 2300BCE.
A sculpture found in Denmark known as the Horse and Sun Chariot is the oldest example of metalwork. It seems a widespread sun cult existed in the north and this sculpture was made to commemorate this. The sculpture dates between 1800-1600BCE. The sculpture was cast in bronze and engraved with abstract geometric designs such as circles, spirals and loops. The movement of the engraving suggests the movement of the sun. Dated to the early Bronze Age on the basis of stylistic elements, the horse is hollow-cast and is one of the earliest representations of a horse in Europe. The sun is made of two disks, ornamented with intricate decorations in concentric circles. Anders Söderberg created a replica for the 100th anniversary of its discovery.
2 million years ago---Homo habilis ("handy man") lived in Africa
By flaking and chipping, he made blades and scrapers with
cutting edges
100,000 years ago----Homo sapiens ("wise man") moved into North Africa, Europe and Asia
* Neanderthals inhabited Europe and used different stone tools
and carefully buried their dead with funerary offering
By 35,000 years ago---Neanderthal had disappeared and
Cro-magnon appears in Europe


~ Made tools from reindeer antlers and bone as well as finely chipped stone implements.
~ Developed social organizations, rituals and beliefs which led them to create art.
~ Engraved, carved, drew and painted with colored ochers - earth minerals such as oxides of iron which could be grounded into pigments.
t is with Cro-Magnon that the history of art begins through found evidence of painting and sculpture.

Modern Man
Archaeologists call this Prehistoric period the Stone Age.

Periods of Prehistoric Art

(there are more distinctions but for our purposes, we will discuss two periods)

I. Upper Paleolithic
paleo meaning "old"
lithos meaning "stone"
II. Neolithic Period
neo meaning "new"
The Upper Paleolithic Period
The Neolithic Period
The Early Age of Metal
Bronze and Iron Ages in Europe
Paleolithic Art
As early as 42,000-8,000 BCE.- While glaciers still covered some parts of northern Europe, North America and Asia...it was here that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in small nomadic groups and created Art and Architecture
Most of the oldest examples are small figures of people and animals made of bone, ivory, stone or clay. The size of the objects directly relate to the nomadic nature of the groups.
Lion-Human.Germany. 30,000-26,000 BCE. Mammoth ivory, 11 5/8"
The Woman of Brassempouy ("Lady with the Hood") is a fragmentary ivory figurine from the Upper Palaeolithic which was discovered in Brassempouy, France in 1892.
About 25,000 years old, it is one of the earliest known realistic representations of a human face.
Woman from Brassempouy, Brassempouy Landes, France. . 22,000BCE. Ivory, 1 1/4"
? Do we know why these figures were created?
Not really. Makers left no record to share their thoughts and/or deeds.
But we have THEORIES...where would we be without theories???
Some theories include:
The maker associated woman with spiritual or magical powers.
Fertility figures were created to ensure the survival of the community or civilization.
This figurine represents the makers use of complex
thinking...the ability to represent a creature never seen in nature. A combining of two different subjects.
What we do know.
Paleolithic sculptors depicted women more frequently than other subject. As a matter of fact, these fertility figures are seen around
the world. If you don't believe me, Google it!
This is an example of ABSTRACTION

* The reduction of shapes and appearance to a basic
yet recognizable form.*
Venus/Women of Willendorf
c. 22,OOO-21,OOOBCE
Size: 4 3/8"
The sculptor exaggerated the
female's attributes.
By carving a well nourished female figure, the maker could have thought that this would ensure longevity, ability to produce children...guaranteeing survival of the clan.
However, we do not know for sure.
Map of Prehistoric Europe
Current Map of Europe
Dwellings have been found in Russia & Ukraine
in the treeless grasslands, settlements of up to
10 houses
What materials were used?
Bones and hides from the wooly mammoths.
These shelters were constructed of dozens of
shoulder blades, pelvis bones, jawbones and
They were also connected...in the largest house, archaeologists
found 15 small hearths containing small bones
left from its occupants.
Leading some to believe
that life revolved around the hearth...
the source
of cooking the food for the community
as well as light & heat in the dark winter months.
Definition of Architecture:
Spatial enclosures with aesthetic intentionality.
p. 26 Mammoth-bone house. Ukraine.16,000-10,000BCE
Cave and rock painting is what we find in the Paleolithic period.

Rock art survives in many places around the world but for now...the oldest examples are found in Europe.
The Vezere Valley in France is one place were you will find cave paintings.

Painting, drawing, engraving and model images began in caves dating back about 30,000 years ago.
Cave paintings were produced in southern France and northern Spain between 28,000-10,000BCE.
Most well known are the caves in Lascaux and Chauvet Cave where the oldest paintings have been found.
Artists produced images of animals such as horses, bison, mammoths and a few people...but very few. No Selfies!
Grids, handprints and geometric marks such as circles and dots have also been found.
In the caves of Altamira, artists used the walls of the cave to aid in creating 3-D effects of the animals shoulders and muscles in the legs.
Lascaux caves.
C. 15,000-13,000BCE.
Paint on limestone
Theories of why these paintings created?
Many theories exist as to why these paintings were done...a few of which...
1. Mythical- producing a painting of an animal would ensure a good hunt...this is the "hunting magic theory"
2. Meaningful images- Because the images were organized in the cave...this meant they had a meaningful social pattern. In Lascaux, the bison, bulls, and cows appear in single rows...and face to face .
The images appear in a sort of twisted perspective...using the surface of the rock. The hooves, eyes and horns are seen from the front while the heads and bodies are seen from the side.
The use of linear perspective (what we have become accustomed to seeing) will be seen later in art but much later and is one of the most important developments in the history of art.
The Bird-Headed man with Bison is thought to be a vision of a Shaman .
Shamans were thought to have special powers, an ability to foretell events and assist people with contacting spirits in the form of animals and birds.
Early humans were skilled toolmakers...they
built scaffolds in order to paint high on cave
walls. They made stone pottery, lamps, and simple
brushes. They even began to decorate their housewares.
Evidence that ropes and string existed even then and were used to decorate clay pots.
Jomon vessel. c. 10,000BCE. ceramic. 8 5/8"
made with coils of clay pressed with cord
Neolithic Period

Cultural and social changes mark the Neolithic period
These developments include:
1. organized agriculture
2. maintenance of herds of domesticated animals...
for a species to become domesticated, it must 'breed
in captivity
3. the foundation of year-round settlements.
The world's first settled farming communities emerged in the ancient Near East and has been referred to as the Fertile Crescent. This would encompass Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Syria...this "crescent" was attached to Turkey and descended along the plains of Mesopotamia through Iraq to the Persian Gulf. We typically define "civilization" as that point at which a primitive people learn that the food supply can be made more reliable by domestication of crops and animals,and at this point two other things happen.
The first is the realization that the people need no longer to be nomads - constantly moving from place to place, hunting and gathering - but can remain in one place.
The second is the discovery that with domestication, not all of the people are necessary to provide food for the group.
Staying Put...
People and Animals. rock-shelter painting in Spain. C. 4,000-2,000BCE.
Theories suggest that this could be an example of a
"sympathetic magic" painting.
Architecture during the Neolithic Period
As people settled into an agricultural way of life, they built walls, storage spaces and animal shelters. In Europe, timber became abundant after the retreat of glaciers.
This is an example of one of the oldest cooking vessels created and fired by Japanese potters.
Almost all wares were decorated. This is very unusual because
most civilizations start out with undecorated and simple vessels...with decoration coming later with more settled civilizations.
Rock-shelters were decorated with narratives or stories
featuring men, women, children and animals...even insects. But no landscapes.
Stone was popular in Mesopotamia
At Skara Brae in Scotland, we see stone dwellings that are connected with covered passageways. The interiors had space saving furniture, stone beds and hearths. It is here that we see the post & lintel design that we find in Stonehenge. Post & lintel construction is one of the most basic ways to span space....Even today...just look at your doorway or window.
It is also quite a "cognitive" development when light begins to enter into architecture. (Think of how buildings and homes would be without windows and doors??)
Skara Brae
In the Neolithic period, we begin to see Megalithic Architecture.
Massive stone tombs and monuments were built. Workers became skilled at shaping and aligning stones weighing over a ton. These structures were probably built under the order of religious and political leaders who declared a need for them.
(We will see this in Egypt at the pyramids and Rome with the Sistine Chapel)
It probably took several hundred people, 20 years to build Newgrange Tomb.

Newgrange was built around 3,200 BC during Ireland's Neolithic period.

Fast Facts...

Newgrange is older than the pyramids.

The word "Megalithic" is from the Greek words " megas" and "lithikos" meaning 'huge' and 'stone'.

We also see symbolism of the solar system. The builders oriented the passage of the tomb with the rising of the sun. ? Do we see & do this now in structures? Yes, many churches are built with this design in mind.
Here at Newgrange in Ireland, we see the simplest type of tomb chamber called a dolmen. This tomb was built into an artificial hill called a cairn.
Not only did Neolithic
culture build tombs but
they also built megalithic
constructions such as Stonehenge.
Scholars do not fully understand Stonehenge.
A henge is a circle formed by stones or wooden posts often surrounded
by a ditch with built-up embankments. Stonehenge is not the largest
structure in Neolithic architecture but it is the most complex. There is evidence that Stonehenge was probably reworked over 4 major building phases...if you don't get it right...try, try, again
Bronze and Iron Ages in Europe...2300-1000 BCE
By 1000BCE. iron technology had spread across Europe. A hierarchy of metals emerged:
Gold, the most precious and permanent, silver, bronze and then iron.
With the age of metals, life changed dramatically.

Horse and Sun-Chariot. Denmark. C. 1800-1600. Bronze and gold. National Museum Copenhagen.
"Spotted Horse and Human Hands"
Pech-Merle Cave,
Lot, France
Horse on right, 25,000-24,000 BCE
hands c. 15,000BCE
Paint on limestone
Necessity First...
Human beings made tools
long before
they made
Later and closer to home...
Stories from the Stone Age
Pt. 1 and 2
The Neolithic period...man becomes more settled
food is exchanged, seeds are shared and he makes the landscape more human.
Process Metallurgy is one of the oldest applied sciences. Its history can be traced back to 6000 BCE. Admittedly, the original form of metallurgy at that time was rudimentary, but, to gain a perspective in Process Metallurgy, it is worthwhile to spend a little time studying the initiation of mankind's association with metals.
Currently there are 86 known metals.
Before the 19th century only 24 of these metals had been discovered and, of these 24 metals, 12 were discovered in the 18th century.
Therefore, from the discovery of the first metals - gold and copper until the end of the 17th century, some 7700 years, only 12 metals were known.
Four of these metals, arsenic, antimony , zinc and bismuth , were discovered in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, while platinum was discovered in the 16th century.
The other seven metals, known as the Metals of Antiquity, were the metals upon which civilization was based.
These seven metals were:

(1) Gold (ca) 6000BC

(2) Copper,(ca) 4200BC

(3) Silver,(ca) 4000BC

(4) Lead, (ca) 3500BC

(5) Tin, (ca) 1750BC

(6) Iron,smelted, (ca) 1500BC

(7) Mercury, (ca) 750BC
Sculptural work by artist, Anish Kapoor
Metal Work

Ancient peoples decorated walls of protected caves with paint made from dirt or charcoal mixed with spit or animal fat. In cave paintings, the pigments stuck to the wall partially because the pigment became trapped in the porous wall, and partially because the binding media (the spit or fat) dried and adhered the pigment to the wall.

Historians hypothesize that paint was applied with brushing, smearing, dabbing, and spraying techniques. Large areas were covered with fingertips or pads of lichen or moss. Twigs produced drawn or linear marks, while feathers blended areas of color. Brushes made from horsehair were used for paint application and outlining. Paint spraying, accomplished by blowing paint through hollow bones, yielded a finely grained distribution of pigment, similar to an airbrush. The oxides of iron dug right out of the ground in the form of lumps were presumably rich in clay. This consistency was conducive to the formation of crayon sticks and also could be made into a liquid paste more closely resembling paint. Historians believe that the lumps were ground into a fine powder on the cave’s natural stone hollows, where stains have been observed. Shoulder and other bones of large animals, stained with color, have been discovered in the caves and presumed to have been used as mortars for pigment grinding. The pigment was made into a paste with various binders, including water, vegetable juices, urine, animal fat, bone marrow, blood, and albumen.

The palette
Prehistoric painters used the pigments available in the vicinity. These pigments were the so-called earth pigments, (minerals limonite and hematite, red ochre, yellow ochre and umber), charcoal from the fire (carbon black), burnt bones (bone black) and white from grounded calcite (lime white).

Indeed, Prehistoric dwellers may have discovered that, unlike the dye colors they were using and which were derived from animal and vegetable sources, the color that came from iron oxide deposits in the earth would not fade with the changing environment. For this reason, it is believed that men traveled far and wide to maintain a steady supply of earth pigments. In every locality where prehistoric sites have been discovered, from Texas to South Africa, trails lead to near and distant hematite deposits where man mined. Historians have deduced that the impetus behind all mining activities was prehistoric man’s need for ochre pigments. Cave men might have traveled as far as 25 miles to obtain iron earth pigments for their paint in the Lascaux area.
Cave Painting Techniques
called a tri-spiral design
The first historical record of the Celts was by the Greeks about 700 BC,
The Celts were a loose grouping of tribes that lived in an area north of the Alps. Over the next few hundred years they spread east and west across Europe. The Celts first arrived in Ireland about 500 BC. By the fifth century AD and the arrival of Christianity, the Celtic language was being spoken all over Ireland.
dolmen—also known as a portal tomb, portal grave is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Dates from the early Neolithic period. Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones
Around 2,500BC people discovered how to make metal tools and weapons, at first using copper, then later bronze, a mixture of copper and tin.
but think about it....
What are the most important things
to us?
Basic necessities;
food, water, shelter

Chapter 1
Prehistoric Art in Europe
Homo habilis
Remember this image from the movie, Napoleon Dynamite?
That is an example of complex thinking!
The Power of "Naming"
This illustration was also found in an elementary art text book showing a family creating cave paintings.
The book shows the whole family participating in the preparation and painting of the cave wall. While the art done in the caves certainly pertained to the community... scientists do not think that all persons of the community participated in the cave paintings.
These were done by specific artists, in very specific locations.
Cross between a Tiger and a Lion
...an example of complex thinking
This drawing was made by an adult and child.
Which objects were drawn by the adult
and which were drawn by the child?
Can you tell?
Newgrange Tomb
Non-representational sculpture
by artist, David Smith
Non-representational sculpture by Richard Chamberlin
This image was in an elementary art book.
This was not how a cave artist/painter looked & how cave painting took place.
It certainly wasn't about the "leisure" arts.
Who knew?
The highlights were drawn by the child
Time for a little piece of art development knowledge or art cognition...
Ok, getting back to the ancient artifacts we saw before...
Speaking of theories...why are some features
exaggerated while others seem to be forgotten?
What is architecture?
What does it have to do with art?
Is architecture art?
Well...and no paper...yet!!!
But who could forget???
I hope you enjoyed a look at the beginning of art...or what we have discovered so far as the beginning.

(but keep in mind, they make new discoveries everyday)


A brief look at more modern or contemporary work.

After all, we couldn't have modern art without the ancient art of the past.

By the way, I love the sculpture "C Curve".
Wonder what the cows think?

Does art have a problem with "inviting people in"?
and...the small boy with the cowboy hat!
Ask yourself...

Why or why not?
In Chapter 1, we see art as a language used for the
following purposes:

a. Survival Ex. Fertility Figure- Woman of Willendorf
Architecture- Mammoth Bone House,Catalhoyuk,
Skara Brae
b. Beliefs/Ritual/Survival Ex.- Cave Painting- Hall of the Bulls
c. Ritual/Spiritual Ex.- Stonehenge
?What's in a name?
How would we think of these figurines if they held the title "Woman" versus "Venus"?
Newgrange Tomb...interior with engraved stones
no...this is
NOT a cave artist!
Who is this guy?
Cave Artist?
Architecture is an important part of art...
Just think you interact with architecture everyday!

Additional Information
How Art Made the World
Full transcript