We are really looking forward to seeing Werner Herzog’s 3-D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the Chauvet cave paintings in the Ardeche region of southern France. Thought to have been made about 30,000 years ago, they evince stunning skillfulness and beauty. This video immediately sent us on the trail of images of the paintings and we found a trove. For a full-on blast, go to Google images and type in “Chauvet cave painting”. We found a more illuminating view at the Bradshaw Foundation. Accompanying each is a description of the process by which it was made, something we find inspiring and moving. Utterly simple materials were used to make the most astonishing images.
One of our favorites is this cluster of large red dots made by covering the palm of the right hand with red ochre, a pigment derived from naturally tinted, and then applying the hand to the cave wall to make a pattern; it may represent a mammoth, possibly “one of the earliest examples of pointillism.”
…this horse was etched into the rock “a tool on the soft surface of the rock, once this surface had been prepared and scraped clean”…
In this image of horses facing one another, “The artist used fingers to mix and spread a charcoal paste and applied it in order to emphasize the main outlines and give relief and shading to the heads.” Charcoal, of course, is made by the slow burning of wood.
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