I recently visited the Musée de l’Homme in Paris for their exhibition on prehistoric art. To say that I loved it would be the understatement of the century. I was completely enraptured from start to finish, but I was particularly delighted with how the exhibition highlighted art’s importance in the study of history itself. So much of what we know about prehistoric times comes from the art that was left behind. The scope of what that art can tell us is truly staggering.
It was also astonishing to me to discover that art in general is only about 30,000 years old. Yes. Only 30,000 years. Given that homo sapiens are approximately 300,000 years old and our extinct ancestors go back millions of years, it’s extraordinary how recent artistic creativity is to the history of our species. We’ve certainly come a long way in those 30,000 years.
There were a lot of incredible pieces on display at this exhibition, but my favourite by far was actually a blend of the old and the new. It was a collage of digital images, projected onto a bank of screens, that showcased prehistoric art from around the world. What was amazing, and profoundly moving, was that this digital collage grouped the images by theme and time period, thereby showing how humans around the world were creating similar art at the same time, completely independent of one another. How in an age before mass communications, humans across the globe were finding inspiration for their creative endeavours in the same places. It was a powerful reminder that no matter how much we try and divide ourselves, we are all still human in the end.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!