The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists
The Cave Painters is a vivid introduction to the spectacular cave paintings of France and Spain—the individuals who rediscovered them, theories about their origins, their splendor and mystery.
Gergory Curtis makes us see the astonishing sophistication and power of the paintings and tells us what is known about their creators, the Cro-Magnon people of some 40,000 years ago. He takes us through various theories—that the art was part of fertility or hunting rituals, or used for religious purposes, or was clan mythology—examining the ways interpretations have changed over time. Rich in detail, personalities, and history, The Cave Painters is above all permeated with awe for those distant humans who developed—perhaps for the first time—both the ability for abstract thought and a profound and beautiful way to express it.
and embarrassed my daughter, who declined to have her picture taken with, as she said, “a naked cave man.” Instead we turned away and looked out across the valley below. The village was just at our feet. In front of it, the Vezere River made a long slow bend. Trees whose branches bent down to the water lined both riverbanks. Beyond them a wide, level valley stretched out until, in the distance, another wall of cliffs rose up. Gray clouds, threatening rain, covered the sky and made the valley
never be proved, but it cuts close to the bone. It is another version of the biblical Fall of Man. For millennium upon millennium, members of the genus Homo did not see themselves as separate from the other animals. Then, somehow, Homo sapiens acquired forbidden knowledge and came to believe they were somehow distinct from other animals. The paintings express the guilt, the regret, and the triumph that came with the belief in that separation. Raphael, as an atheist and a Marxist, avoided
course of her life had been interrupted and delayed by the war, but now she was racing toward the future. She was technically just a graduate student at the Sorbonne who had begun studying the painted caves only five years earlier. But her brilliance was already apparent, and word about her had begun to spread in the small but intense community of French prehistorians. In 1948 she wrote the text for Lascaux: Chapelle Sixtine de la prehistoire, a book of photographs taken by Fernand Windeis, who
when drugs, fatigue, pain, insistent rhythms, or other stimuli induce a trance, the nervous system produces a pattern of hallucinations derived from it and not from cultural clues. The pattern is the same for all people in all cultures at all times. Therefore, Paleolithic hunters had the same pattern of hallucinations during trances that we do. In particular the authors mean visions derived from the structure of the optic system. They call such visions “entoptic phenomena.” One example of
2006 759.01’20944—dc22 2006040888 eISBN: 978-0-307-48270-9 www.anchorbooks.com v3.0