Where is the place for prehistoric art?

How to start from the beginning? In other words, the depth of the epochs and the beginning of the human lineage … It is in these words that the paleontologist Yves Koppens in the large auditorium of the Louvre Museum, known to Internet users and readers science and the future, Essentially “What place for prehistoric art?” Titled set the scene for the day of October 15, 2021. (1). Their “Dream” ? that it be exposed to visitors what it qualifies “The first creation, the first symbol: this stone of 300,000 300,000 years old, very impressive” which was once created by humans or pre-humans (see video below).

a tribute to “human genius”

Truly an icon for the Museum of Art and Antiquities, known around the world for its iconic rooms where the Mona Lisa dates back to Egyptian, Oriental, Greco-Roman and Etruscan antiquities. It is in no way a question of replacing the place in the Museum of Prehistory, “There are already many” (2), recalls Professor Emeritus of the Collge de France. But it would be a way to pay tribute to his first manifestations. “human genius”, notes Rose-Marie Musso, director of the National Archaeological Museum (MAN). The rock crystals of the Palaeolithic or the bifurcation of perfect proportions, such works are enough to evoke a singular feeling. Lovers of prehistory, sensitive to the extraordinary findings of archaeological excavations of antiquity, especially in Africa, already know.

Did you say archaeological excavation? It happens, and it is not well known whether the Louvre presides over or is led by important people. For example, in Shanidar, Iraq – where nine Neanderthal skeletons were found – whose museum houses archaeological maps (3), explains Ariane Thomas, director of the Department of Oriental Antiquities. Among its collections, the Louvre also houses scrapers or blade cores, prehistoric tools found in the area of ​​Thebes. The oldest item presented to the public is however recent. This is a statue of Ain Ghazal, found in the 1980s in the suburbs of Amman in Jordan and probably dated to 10,000 years ago (4) Neolithic.

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Who is Art?

this place “Prehistoric Art” Everything is there to create controversy. Who is Art? The collection’s chief curators such as Katherine Schwab or Katherine Kretin (2) know something about it, constantly navigating between sculptures and many objects of art. “Furniture”, appears in prehistoric museums. What to do with the obsolete paintings and carvings of cave art, which we find on the walls of famous caves, such as those in Lascaux, at the Chauvet-Vallon Pont d’Arc, are today the object of replication. Without counting all these representations of hunter-gatherer societies – often in the open air – found in Indonesia (over 43,000 years old), South America, Africa …

“Difficult file, sometimes conflicting”, judge the prehistoric Francesco D’Erico (CNRS, University of Bordeaux), which underlines “The vague nature of the concept of art” and conversely assumes that a prehistoric object “There is no place in the Louvre and it is better that way”. And to question the origin of the object in question. Would we thus justify an act from another country? To put this art in perspective, shouldn’t we miss “Man’s Place in Nature” ? When Emmanuel Guy (5), for his part, insists “Aesthetics of this Palaeolithic Art”, and the existence of what we call it today, “School”, especially in painting or engraving. “There is no reason for this art not to give it an aesthetic reason” He emphasizes. “It is the question of how we view the prehistoric societies that arose” He remembers. A sight that had long been seen in these distant humans in primitive and crude creatures. obvious error when we see “Third Dimension Prep Taste”, as practiced with astonishing skill on the horses of Chauvet Cave or the famous friezes of the lioness. Surprisingly, many who came to the Louvre Auditorium were able to (re)discover with a screening of the film in 3D “The Last Passage” directed by Pascal Magontier and of which the artistry was assured by Honorary Heritage Curator Jean-Michel Genest. Direction (6).

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The new pleasure of rubbing shoulders with this invisible (Chouvet Cave is closed to the public) thanks to digital readings by laser grammarians performed in the original Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave. Thanks to new technologies, prehistoric art also has its place. homo heidelbergensishandjob habilis, And Neanderthals together would certainly be proud to see the super-aesthetic productions of which today’s sapiens have been able to.

1) Recording of this day will be made online soon, including science and the future the link will indicate.

2) National Archaeological Museum in Saint-Germain en Le; le-de-France Museum of Prehistory in Nemours (Seine-et-Marne); National Museum of Prehistory in Les Aziz (Dordogne). Several regional museums also present prehistory (Bordeaux, Périgueux…).

3) The excavated specimens were analyzed by paleontologist Arlett Leroi-Gourhan, later nicknamed “The Flower Tomb”. Publications VIth Congress, INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research), 1961.

4) The period known as “the first villages” between 10,000 and – 5,500 years (before the present), author of “The Prehistory of Artistry”. The Invention of Style 20,000 Years Ago”, Press du Reel, 2011. “What Prehistoric Art Says About Our Origins”, Flammarion, 2017

5) Production by Martin Marquet of RUP’ART Productions / Perezio Engineering.

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