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Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, 12e. Chapter 1 The Birth of Art: Africa, Europe, and the Near East in the Stone Age . Goals. Understand the origins of art in terms of time period, human development and human activity.

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gardner s art through the ages 12e

Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, 12e

Chapter 1

The Birth of Art:

Africa, Europe, and the Near East

in the Stone Age

  • Understand the origins of art in terms of time period, human development and human activity.
  • Explore origins of creativity, representation, and stylistic innovation in the Paleolithic period.
  • Describe the role of human and animal figures in Paleolithic art.
  • Examine the materials and techniques of the earliest art making in the Paleolithic period.
  • Illustrate differences between the Paleolithic and Neolithic art as a result of social and environmental changes.
  • Understand and evaluate the types of art prevalent in the Neolithic period.
  • Paleolithic: “Old Stone Age” – from the Greek– paleo= old; lithos = stone
  • Neolithic: “NEW Stone Age” – from the Greek– neo= old; lithos = stone
  • Incise: To cut into a surface with a sharp instrument; a means of decoration, especially on metal and pottery.
  • Twisted Perspective: A convention of representation in which part of a figure is shown in profile and another part of the same figure is shown frontally; a composite view.
paleolithic art in western europe and africa
Paleolithic Art in Western Europe and Africa
  • Why art must be intentionalandrepresentational in order to be called art.
    • Must be modified by human intervention beyond mere selection.
  • How do we know this pebble was “selected”?
  • Why does it need to be modified to be called art?
    • Intentional creation of art objects dates to 30,000 BCE

Makapansgat pebble

paleolithic art in western europe and africa6
Paleolithic Art in Western Europe and Africa

AFRICA: Namibia during the Paleolithic period Early paintings were portable


Questions the artist would ask:

  • What is my subject?
    • An animal
  • How shall I represent it?
    • Strict profile: can see all body parts– completely informative
  • Moved from recognitionof animal forms to representation of animal forms.

Namibia: Apollo 11 Cave

paleolithic art in western europe and africa7
Paleolithic Art in Western Europe and Africa

AFRICA: Namibia during the Paleolithic period

paleolithic art in western europe and africa8
Paleolithic Art in Western Europe and Africa

WESTERN EUROPE: Germany: Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave:

  • Carved fromIvory-1 foot tall.
  • Composite creature: human with feline head.
  • Bridges time gap between the Makapansgat pebble and the Namibian animal.
  • No way to know what the intention was – sorcerer? Humans dressed as animals?
  • Did involve skill & time, so was important.
the earliest sculpted forms
Women in Paleolithic Art: Representations of humans during this period were almost always of unclothed women.

Called “Venuses” after the Greco-Roman goddess of beauty.

Not accurate because there is no proof of the idea of named gods or goddesses in that era.

“Venus” of Willendorf

The Earliest Sculpted Forms
the earliest sculpted forms10
“Venus” of Willendorf

Why were they thought to be fertility images?

What is the evidence against that?

What CAN we safely conclude?


Lack of focus on naturalism.

No facial features.

Evidence in the sculpture that it is a fertility figure?

The Earliest Sculpted Forms
the earliest sculpted forms11
“Laussel Venus”: woman holding a bison horn, found in Dordogne, France.

Probably later than the Willendorf figure.

One of the earliest relief sculptures.

Originally part of a large stone block.

Red ochre was applied to the body. [Ochre is a pigment made from tinted clays]

Similar emphasis on the female form to the “Willendorf Venus”

The Earliest Sculpted Forms
the earliest sculpted forms13
Rock-Cut Women:La Magdelaine, France

Relief sculptures of nude women on cave walls.

Used the natural contours of the cave wall as abasis for the representation.

Incised and carved.

The Earliest Sculpted Forms
the earliest sculpted forms14
Clay Bison:

Le Tuc d’Audoubert,France-12-17k yrs ago

Strict profile- 2 ft long

Modeled in clay from the cave itself

Antler Sculpture:

4 inches long



Represented with the head turned – probable reason?

The Earliest Sculpted Forms
discovery of altamia
Discovery of Altamia
  • Altamira was the first prehistoric cave with paintings to be discovered in 1879.
    • Now paintings are known at 200 other sites.

Floating Bison

  • Strict profile – maintained by changing the viewpoint in the case of the curled up bison.
  • Not a group
    • no common ground line
    • No setting, background or indication of place.
signs hands
Signs & Hands
  • Checks, dots, squares, lines are found alongside the animals [Lascaux image]
    • May include a primitive kind of writing.
  • Also common: representations of human hands, mostly with pigment around the shape. [Pech-Merle, France]
  • Murals at Pech-Merle: Indicate animals chosen for a particular place in the cave- horses/hands painted on concave surfaces- bison on convex.
examining materials and techniques
Examining Materials and Techniques
  • To SEE in the caves they used stone lamps with animal marrow or fat.
  • To DRAW they used chunks of red and yellow ochre, but also other minerals.
  • The PALATTE was a large flat stone.
  • BRUSHES were made from reeds, bristles or twigs.
    • May have used reed or blowpipe to spray paint on hard to reach locations.
  • Used ledges and perhaps primitive scaffolds to reach the walls.
  • Hard to ascertain WHY the paintings were made– there are numerous theories
the bulls of lascaux
The Bulls of Lascaux
  • Paintings include animals other than bulls, but the name has stuck!
  • Differences in style suggest paintings done at different times.
    • Both colored and outline examples.
lascaux the bulls of lascaux
Lascaux: The Bulls of Lascaux
  • The horns are represented in twisted perspective: Bull is in profile, but horns viewed from the front.
lascaux the well scene
Lascaux: The Well Scene

"The Shaft of the Dead Man."

  • 2 animals and a stick-man lying on the ground.
  • Indication of narrative in cave paintings.
    • Cleary a man
    • Many interpretations.
  • Oldest cave paintings yet discovered. [in 1994]
  • Horns rendered in strict perspective.
  • Possible narrative in the two rhinos confronting each other.
  • Dating is in question …
neolithic art goals

Neolithic Art: Goals

Understand the effect of climatic and lifestyle changes during the transition from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic period.

Illustrate artistic development as a result of differences between the Paleolithic and Neolithic society and environment.

Understand and evaluate the different types of art prevalent in the Neolithic period.

changing environment and lifestyle
Changing Environment and Lifestyle
  • The Ice recedes from Northern Europe c. 9000 BCE
    • Climate grew warmer, reindeer migrated north; wooly mammoth and rhinoceros disappeared.
    • MESOLITHIC: Transitional period of change
  • NEOLITHIC: Settled in fixed abodes and domesticated animals and plants.
  • Beginning of AGRICULTURE:
    • Oldest communities near the Tigris & Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia. [part of modern day Syria/Iraq]
    • Neolithic innovations: systematic agriculture, weaving, metalworking, pottery, and counting & recording with tokens.
neolithic art jericho stone fortifications

Neolithic Art: Jericho Stone Fortifications

Inhabited long before Joshua’s Biblical battle. [Jordan River valley.]

Small village as early as 9th millennium BCE.

Developped around 7th mil. BCE.

Town’s wealth grew along with powerful neighbors, thus fortifications were built.

2,000 people estimated in 7500 BCE

Circular Stone Tower – 33 ft diameter at base with inner stairway.

Built with simple stone tools.

neolithic art sculpture at ain ghazal

Neolithic Art: Sculpture at Ain Ghazal

Neolithic settlement, near Amman, Jordan. 8-6th mil.

Homes of irregularly shaped stones, plastered, painted walls and floors.

Plaster Statues: Mid-7th mil. Appears to be a ritual burial.

Plaster over a core of reeds and twine.

Orange & black hair, clothing and some body painting. Gender was rarely indicated

Beginning of monumental sculptures [3 ft.]

neolithic art catal hoyuk

Neolithic Art: Catal Hoyuk

City without streets: 7-5th mil BCE -- predetermined plan

Twelve building levels excavated, thus revealing the development of a NEOLITHIC culture based on trade in obsidian.

Narrative Painting: Regular appearance of human figure.

Composite view based on what presented the most information about the body segment.

neolithic art catal hoyuk28

Neolithic Art: Catal Hoyuk

First “landscape” painting? [may have been a map]

monumental architecture
Monumental Architecture

Around 4000 BCE Megaliths [standing stones] and Henges [circles of stones] were developed in Western Europe.


  • Terms: SarsenLintel,Trilithons
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • In the textbook, emphasis is placed on a criterion of intentional manipulation of an object in order for it to be classified as “art.” Is this criterion valid? What is your definition of art?
  • Why do you think that images of man were less prevalent in Paleolithic art than those of women?
  • What accounts for the lifestyle changes which effect the art?
  • How is the human figure presented differently in the Paleolithic to the Neolithic periods?
small group discussion
Small Group Discussion
  • Describe the differences between the so-called Venus of Willendorf (FIG. 1-4) and the relief of the Woman from Laussel (Fig. 1-5)?
  • When comparing two figures you can begin with facts like size, material and technique, approximate date, and what is know about where they were found.
  • Then go on to describe the bodily features of each figure and how the similarities and differences might be interpreted.