Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Old" Masters?

The Guardian has an interesting story about what is considered the oldest cave paintings ever found - a painting of appears to be a face, 27,000 years old.

What do you think of when you see that pic? The face pops out at you quickly - a horizontal line connected to a vertical line and then a separate, thinner horizontal line below. That's an eye, nose and mouth, right? To me, that is classic Picasso. In fact, here's a link to Picasso's famous Demoiselles d'Avignon. In particular, the two faces in the middle of the painting are remarkably similar to the portrait by the ancient artist.

Now I'm suggesting by any stretch that Picasso is "primitive" (I loathe that description) or that the ancient artist was way ahead of their time. As the Guardian puts it - both artists utilize our ability to recognize faces from quite abstract drawings. It is even more interesting to me that there is such a striking difference between the way in which this human is represented and the way that animals were represented in later cave art. Of course one cannot draw conclusions from a single extant example, but I also can't deny that this discovery is breathtaking.


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