PREHISTORIC ART (30,000 B.C. – c. 400 A.D.)
Art has always been a way for humans to express emotions. The earliest pieces of art date back to a time where there was no formalized way of writing. We can see these works of art in cave paintings and sculptures. The most famous pieces of art from the Prehistoric Period can be found in the Lascaux Caves in southwestern France. The cave paintings at the Lascaux Caves are one of the most extensive and best examples of Paleolithic art (check out this Youtube video for a tour of the caves). It truly represents the ingenuity and growing mental capacity of humans. Scholars are still unsure as to what sort of purpose the paintings served, but theories range from religious reasoning to documentation of daily life (such as the migrant patterns of bison). The cave paintings depict mostly animals in a twisted perspective and the surrounding landscape. These paintings truly showcase how involved these people were with the natural world. The detailing in the cave paintings is remarkable considering how early these paintings were created.
Another notable piece of art from this time period is a small statue known as Venus of Willendorf. It stands 4.25 inches high and is estimated to have been created in about 28,000 B.C. The statue depicts a rather plump woman with accentuated features (specifically the parts of the body that are associated with fertility and childbearing). Like the Lascaux Caves, no one is sure of its cultural significance; however, scholars and researchers believe that the Venus of Willendorf is some kind of fertility goddess. Given the detail and extreme care that the artist took in creating the sculpture it would not be completely incorrect to say that this was a prized item. Art from the Prehistoric era laid the foundation for using art as a medium of expression.
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