The Cave Painters: This Becomes That

As we begin to assess Art in its cultural and historic context, we find ourselves turning our gaze back into our collective distant past and marvel at the work painted and scratched onto cave walls.  Our earliest ancestors, responding to a community driven by hopes, fears, and ignorance, saw fit to leave their perceptions of the world which we, unfortunately, refer to as “primitive art”.  The famed British sculptor, Henry Moore, once remarked:  “Primitive art…is something made by people with a direct and immediate response to life.”  Although no written documents have been found to record the “thoughts” of our earliest ancestors, nevertheless, their painted images on cave walls such as Chauvet Cave speak volumes about their perceptions of the visible world they inhabited so many years ago.  It is believed that the cave painters constructed images on the cave walls in a representational way so that, in some magical way, the spirit of the animal depicted would inhabit the replicated form.  In other words, their painted animals became those animals in the wilds.  What are your thoughts of our ancient ancestors and their attempts to “record” or “document” their time by replicating animals on the walls of sacred caves?

Animals found in Chauvet Cave


19 thoughts on “The Cave Painters: This Becomes That

  1. I find it amazing that they found the time and tools needed to paint their amazing art all over caves in the dark. Looking at some of the cave paintings there are ledges and ceilings that are even covered with the art. Our ancestors must have been very motivated and inspired to spend the time on these wonderful images that we can only guess at the purposes behind them.

  2. I find the paintings on caves fascinating. Our ancestors did not have much to work with back then and just the thought of them just making a “paint brush” out of whatever they had around is wonderful. Using rocks to carve on other rock is beautiful because they wanted to share their thoughts and experiences on the walls of these caves. Even back then these artist saw something that the non artist did not. Our ancestors wanted to pass down their images to those who follow and that is very interesting.

  3. The ingenuity that our ancestors had to create their tools needed to accomplish this task is very impressive. You must also consider that they didn’t really have any style or artists to mimic at this time. These paintings were pretty much the first of their kind so guessing their purpose is extremely difficult. The mind set and environment during these times was so drastically different that it’s hard to fully understand what they are trying to say with these paintings. The art is very accurate and very nicely done for using such prehistoric tools.

  4. I honestly think that our ancestors were just capturing the moment like real artists do. Just because they were in a different time I would still call it art. They saw something that inspired them to put it on a canvas even though it was a cave. Cave art is significant and it just shows that art will always be around no matter what resources are available.

  5. I wish I could create such “primitive art.” I think the cave art found at Chauvet signifies the deep bond between man and his environment. Maybe these paintings were created to capture not only the spirits of the animals but to honor the “maker” of these mighty creatures. Given the effort needed just to survive from one day to the next, the amount of time required to leave such documentation lends itself to the magnitude of importance of these works.

  6. I believe this primitive art shows you how in tuned the people we’re at that time with nature and its spirits. You can tell that each stroke or painting is telling a story

  7. I think that drawing or paint it is one of the innate primordial instinct that lie inside us. I do not why. Express by images it is more easy than with words. A kid understand and express himself with draws at the beginning if his life, before to know how talk. It is deep instinct what bring the kid to draw on the wall, exactly how our ancestors did. So I think that this it is the first attempt of communication known of human being.

  8. What I find most intriguing about these cave paintings is not necessarily how the cavemen executed their compositions or the symbolic/iconographic significance of their depictions, but rather the rudimentary idea of primordial man’s capacity for artistic expression even in an undeveloped world. This undoubtedly proves that even without cultural influence or societal implementations that we are familiar with in the modern world, man has craved to express himself ever since the beginning. The cave paintings may not be impressive in craftsmanship or general execution of style, but it shows mankind’s quintessential desire to replicate reality in a perceivable form and manner, revealing an irreplaceable expression belonging to that time period.

  9. The paintings found at Chauvet Cave are incredible. The people of that time produced a handful of pieces that lasted more than a third of a century. They were also clearly intelligent- they had a desire to replicate what they saw and even to organize how they laid out the paintings in the cave. This means that they were more than just primal animals, they had an agenda, they wanted to keep a record or something similar. They also understood how to make the drawn animal look as if it were moving. To me, these paintings are a magnificent sign of intelligence. It is a miracle that they survived through the ages.

  10. I think cave painting is an amazing thing in the wrold. People use some different ways to paint in the wall. And it can stay in the wall for along time. In the ancient, Chinese people like paint in the wall anf now there are some very famous cave paint become the scenic spots. And at that time people don’t have very advance way to paint so they need to spend long time to create them. And I also think they want to record their life in the cave.

  11. i couldn’t believe that the drawings were made by cavemen. i was amazed of the detail and skills that the cavemen had when drawing these animals. some of the paintings were even shaded correctly and pretty accurate too.

  12. In my opinion, i think it is really cool and think that our ancestors were ahead of there time. They show great skill and a lot of knowledge simply by choosing to display such art work on caves. It was as though they were trying to convey a message to the future people.

  13. The paintings themselves are excellent, and in my opinion, realistic. The very fact that they have survived this long makes me wonder as to what materials they actually used to paint. I feel that within these paintings is so much history and through them we might learn a bit about ourselves.

  14. i love seeing the cave paintings. Its amazing to see that we even had great talent and it also paints a visual for us who don’t know what it was like back then and what they went through. It brings us into their world and i think that is a great way to keep our history alive! It’s going to continue to show history and paint pictures of this world for generations to come after us.

  15. I believe that the capacity of these ancient artists to create such accurate representations of the animals around them shows just how developed their cerebral system was at the time. They were able to see these creatures, and accurately remember them enough to reconstruct them. Perhaps they were, in some way, trying to reach the spirit of the animals by creating them. We can never really understand the reasoning behind the paintings, and maybe that’s ok. The mystic behind the cave paintings has served and will continue to serve as inspiration for artists for years to come.

  16. I think the “primitive” art was appropriate for the time because the animals and hunting, ultimately survival was there main inspiration and concern at the time. They did not have all of our societal concerns and issues, it was all about the animals and how they fit into their survival. It was very simple then, and that is why they have a limited variety in what kind of art they do.

  17. I think that the cave wall arts represents the beginning of human intelligence and therefore they should be very valuable towards mankind. Furthermore, at the beginning of human history, there were only very little rules and the idea of formality was long to be generated – let alone standards regarding painting. The ancient paintings on the cave walls therefore is the pure presentation of human instinct.

  18. I believe that if our ancestors didn’t attempt to “record” their time with animals on walls we wouldn’t have art. Instead we would have global famine, political corruption, Middle-Eastern tension, 50% divorce rates in the hegemony, worldwide poverty, and an epidemic of a deficiency of the immune system in humans.

    Hence since that doesn’t exist, we see that the birth of art of was started with these primitive, feeble attempts of art on cave walls. I still think that they could have produced these pieces of art on trees, rocks, or on each other.

  19. I have a deep respect for our ancient ancestors with their forms of art painted or scratched into cave walls. It is amazing to me to be able to get a glimpse of history through these depictions of their time. People who do not appreciate this form of art are not taking into consideration the difference between our culture and their culture. The tools that they had for making their art were much different that the intricate tools that artists use now. It is so important that we have access to cave art as it gives us a vital link to our heritage and history.

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