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Sid Tafler

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What does cave art mean to you?

Stone Age art has fascinated people around the world since some of the first discoveries of cave paintings in France and Spain in the 19th century.
The recent Werner Herzog film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," showcasing the spectacular panels of lions and horses at Chauvet, brought new attention to Paleolithic art.
If you haven't gazed into the deep past recently, do a web search for Lascaux, Chauvet or Altamira cave.

What do these arts forms mean to you?
Do you find them beautiful, primitive, artistically inspired, or something less?
Are these drawings art for art sake, an attempt by Paleolithic people to reproduce the world they experienced?
Or do they have some deep cosmic or spiritual significance?
Why did these people of 15,000 to 30,000 years ago often create these works in places that were difficult to access?
Were they trying to communicate with each other, access worlds beyond their own, or engage in hunting magic?
Or were they just enjoying themselves scratching and drawing on cave walls?


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  • May 10 2012: I like Picasso's sentiment that, to paraphrase, we've learned nothing new in 20,000 years (leaving Lascaux). I read David Lewis-Williams's "Mind in the Cave" some years ago and studied cave painting some; the things that touched me most were evidence of gender differences in the hand prints, evidence of a child, held in an adult's arms while the adult blew the child's print on the wall, the extraordinary execution in difficult, cramped spaces. We haven't changed significantly, for all our technological mastery
    I enjoyed Herzog's movie immensely, and deeply appreciated him documenting Chauvet for posterity; though I couldn't follow him on some of his more somber, cryptic digressions. The albino crocs seemed a stretch.

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