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What Is Paleolithic Art? Cave Paintings and the Dawn of Human Creativity
By Jean Clottes
Bradshaw Foundation Books
What Is Paleolithic Art? Cave Paintings and the Dawn of Human Creativity by Jean Clottes
• Paperback: 214 pages
• Publisher: University of Chicago Press (12 April 2016)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 022626663X
• ISBN-13: 978-0226266633
• Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
Book Description
Was it a trick of the light that drew our Stone Age ancestors into caves to paint in charcoal and red hematite, to watch the heads of lions, likenesses of bison, horses, and aurochs in the reliefs of the walls, as they flickered by firelight? Or was it something deeper a creative impulse, a spiritual dawn, a shamanistic conception of the world efflorescing in the dark, dank spaces beneath the surface of the earth where the spirits were literally at hand? In this book, Jean Clottes, one of the most renowned figures in the study of cave paintings, pursues an answer to this why of Paleolithic art. While other books focus on particular sites and surveys, Clottes s work is a contemplative journey across the world, a personal reflection on how we have viewed these paintings in the past, what we learn from looking at them across geographies, and what these paintings may have meant what function they may have served for their artists. Steeped in Clottes's shamanistic theories of cave painting, 'What Is Paleolithic
Art?' travels from well-known Ice Age sites like Chauvet, Altamira, and Lascaux to visits with contemporary aboriginal artists, evoking a continuum between the cave paintings of our prehistoric past and the living rock art of today. Clottes's work lifts us from the darkness of our Paleolithic origins to reveal, by firelight, how we think, why we create, why we believe, and who we are.
Subtle, imaginative, and brilliantly accomplished, the images of animals and humans found in caves and dated from the end of the last Ice Age, between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, continue to astonish us. The emotions and motives that inspired them beg to be understood. In 'What is Paleolithic Art?', Clottes, the renowned cave- and rock-art specialist, suggests some answers. . . . This is a thought-provoking book about complex societies that endeavored to understand the world in their own various ways. For anyone interested in Ice Age art, Clottes's enthusiasm cannot fail to energize, inspire, and provide caution to their own investigations. Jill Cook, British Museum 'Nature'
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Jean Clottes
Jean Clottes is a prominent French prehistorian. He was born in the French Pyrénées in 1933 and began to study archaeology in 1959, while teaching high school. He initially focused on Neolithic dolmens, which were the topic of his 1975 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Toulouse. After being appointed director of prehistoric antiquities for the Midi-Pyrénées in 1971, he began to study prehistoric cave art in order to fulfill the responsibilities of that position. In the following years he led a series of excavations of prehistoric sites in the region. In 1992, he was named General Inspector for Archaeology at the French Ministry of Culture; in 1993 he was appointed Scientific Advisor for prehistoric rock art at the French Ministry of Culture. He formally retired in 1999, but remains an active contributor to the field.
To date he has written over 300 scientific papers, and has edited, co-edited, written, or co-authored a total of over 20 books. He has also lectured around the world, taught at the University of Toulouse and the University of California at Berkeley, and engaged in numerous public outreach and professional service activities. He has received several honors from the French government and also from the Blue Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert, who made him an honorary Tuareg in 2007.
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