Art of Prehistory

The so  called prehistoric art is what we can liken with the so-called artistic production of today’s Western man , made by prehistoric humans, such as rock engravings, statuettes, paintings and drawings.

Prehistoric art is not necessarily linked to the idea of ​​”art”, but to communication that emerged from the renaissance .

The relationship that prehistoric man had with these objects is impossible to define. However, it is possible to formulate hypotheses and make a path to scientifically support them.

Even today, hunter-gatherer peoples produce the so-called “art” and in some tribes of Indians it is possible to perceive the relationship of contemporary man with the current concept of works of art and also of commerce.

Archaeological finds

Despite the consolidation of religion in the Neolithic period , archeology records that, in the Paleolithic period, there was a primitive religion based on the cult of a mother Goddess , [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] to the feminine and the association give it to the power to give life. [ 5 ] They were discovered in the Cro-Magnon rock shelterin Les Eyzies, cowry shells, described as “The portal through which a child comes into the world.” And covered with a red ocher pigment, which symbolized blood, and which were closely linked to the ritual of worshiping female figurines; Excavations have shown that these statuettes, the so- called Neolithic venus, were often found in a central position, as opposed to male symbols located in peripheral positions or flanking female statuettes . [ 6 ]

Researchers announced in 2017 that 16 blocks of limestone were found in Abri Cellier with images of mammoths and horses formed with engraved dots and lines, a technique often associated with 19th century pointilist artists . They believe that the blocks would have been re-molded and engraved about 38,000 years ago. [ 7 ]

Art in prehistory and the differences with art today

The art in this period can be inferred from the people who live today or lived until recently in prehistory (for example, the aborigines , the Indians ). In prehistory, art was not something that could be separated from other spheres of life, from religion, economics, politics, and these spheres were also not separated from each other, they formed a whole in which everything had to be art, have a aesthetics, because nothing was purely utilitarian, as a can opener or ballot box is today. Everything was both mythical, political, economic and aesthetic.

Art as a word that designates a sphere separate from everything else appeared only when the castes , classes and states appeared , that is, when all those spheres of life became specializations of certain people: the ruler with politics, the peasants with the economy, priests with religion and artisans with art. Only then does “pure” art appear, separated from the rest of life, and the word that designates it.

But before the renaissance , artisans were very attached to the economy, many were merchants and that’s where the word “handicrafts” comes from. So art was still rarely separated from the economy (although in Ancient Greece , art came to have relative autonomy), so the word “art” was synonymous with “technique”, that is, “producing something” in a urban context. In the Renaissance, some artisans were supported by nobles (the Medici , for example) only to produce art, a “pure” art. That is where art as we know it came into being today.


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