on 20 March 2013
Excellent book and a perfect compliment to 'Ice Age Art - the Arrival of the Modern Mind'. Cave Art, as the name suggests, concentrates on the caves themselves and is set out like a catalogue to an exhibition. Practically every page has a colour photo on it, (this book is a biggie - it's about 10 by 12 inches and over an inch thick!), accompanied by an explanatory text.
It is layed out chronologically and, as most cave art is in western Europe, concludes with a chapter on later sites further afield. The text is clear and concise and includes an introduction explaining the background to the times. No specialist knowledge is required and in my opinion is very good value for money - much better than some similar books on the market retailing at £90+!!
on 7 May 2014
The jet-set image of the contemporary art scene has now become so powerful that there is a real need to look beyond it and realise that art is not just about money and glamour.
Art is a fundamental part of the human condition. The capacity for art arises from what anthropologists refer to as symbolic thought: the representation of the real world through symbols such as words, drawings and objects. Just how and when these and other modern behavioural attributes arose is still hotly debated, but the oldest work of art so far discovered is a haematite stone decorated with abstract designs, found in the Blombos Cave near Capetown and believed to be 75,000 years old.
Though not the oldest prehistoric art, that of Upper Palaeolithic Europe is undoubtedly the best known. The earliest-known cave paintings, those at Chauvet Cave in southern France, are 32,000 years old. From that time up until the end of the last Ice Age roughly 11,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon cave artists consistently achieved a standard best summed up by Picasso who, on visiting the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne, is said to have remarked “We have invented nothing”. Not without good reason have these caves, now thought to have been painted 18-19,000 years ago, been described as “The Sistine Chapel of prehistory”.
Born in the French Pyrenees in 1933, Dr. Jean Clottes is one of France’s most eminent prehistorians. Although now formally retired he remains active in the field. In the 1990s he played a leading role in the study of the newly-discovered Chauvet Cave and also the 27,000 year old Cosquer cave near Marseille.
Clottes is however best known for his controversial but highly-plausible theory that prehistoric cave art was associated with shamanic practices, whereby shamans can move between the living and spirit worlds with the aid of spirit helpers and act as mediators between the living and spirit worlds, obtaining supernatural assistance in such matters as healing, hunting and weather.
According to Clottes Cro-Magnon people regarded caves as access points to the spirit world. While the cave art would have reflected mythologies that would almost certainly have shown regional and temporal variation, Clottes’ view is that the overall belief system persisted with little change for over twenty millennia, ending only when the Ice Age finally drew to a close.
CAVE ART is an accessible and well-organised introduction to prehistoric art, featuring over 300 items. Clottes describes his book as “a kind of museum, a collection of prehistoric imagery” and admits that in common with all museums, it cannot exhibit everything. Accordingly the focus is on the cave art of Ice Age Europe, with less emphasis on figurines, engraved bones and other portable works of art. Some will feel that these, and post-Ice Age cave art from other parts of the world, might have been better covered, but Clottes admits that his “museum” is personal.
In keeping with the book’s concept, explanatory texts take second place to the “exhibits” themselves. They are styled after the texts one might find in an actual museum, with each work accompanied by a caption header providing key facts followed by a brief but generally very informative text, often including Clottes’ personal views and interpretations.
This book will be welcomed by anybody with an interest in either art or prehistory, or indeed anybody who wants to know more about the people of Ice Age Europe, whose society endured five times longer than the whole of our recorded history.
on 19 May 2013
This is a marvellous text. The thesis is clearly presented, and un-pretentiously written. The authority of the author is high (and it is worth, I feel, reading David Lewis-Williams's text "The Mind in the Cave" along side it for further illumination of the thesis). The photographs are large, crisp and clear, and the captions unambiguous. The chronological order presentation is helpful. A good buy, I feel.
on 17 October 2014
This is a massive, stupendous, work in every sense.
It's a huge paperback, with a dust jacket, and must weigh in at over 2 kilos...that gives space for really big photographs of all the works shown. Such a treat...to be able to see these astonishing and often inaccessible creations from so very long ago and to see them at a decent size.
The book has been planned, the author tells us, to give the reader " an imaginary museum of Paleolothic art" , and it succeeds brilliantly, breathtakingly.
It covers works from 35, 000 years ago to 11,000 years ago in four sections and in the final section it takes us beyond Europe, with a taste of artworks around the world.
The book is a colossal work of scholarship and is a glorious production: all this at a staggering bargain too...you realise that when you see it.
This is my Xmas present to myself this year and will continue to fascinate for years to come. Just awesome.
on 19 June 2016
Not a great introduction to prehistoric art, its history, research methods, techniques and theories. But the best available collection of splendid reproductions from a great variety of mainly continental European sites and all that perfectly produced. Exactly what I was looking for.
on 24 July 2014
I am not a learned person,my reason for buying this book is because I have bought all the Jean Aule earths children books and found the fascinating . She researches her books therefore making them believable,.When the ice man was discovered it was amazing how many things were as her characters he was like.
When I saw this book I realised it was what I had been looking for, I did not want a book where someone was telling me what it was all in aid of. This large book is full of excellent photos of various cave paintings. The text just tells you the where and perhaps how and leaves you to make your own mind up. This is a book written by an expert who leaves interpretation up to you. It is a book I will long treasure.