The oldest of our art

If you look at cave paintings, you see how people were depicted inside nature, not outside of it…”

Gregory Colbert

Steely Dan’s 1976 album Royal Scam, contains the haunting track, Caves of Altamira. This song describes the 1879 discovery of palaeolithic art in these Spanish caves, by an 8 year old girl, Maria. For decades this location, along with the Lascaux caves in France, were the two pillars forming our understanding of pre history art. Unfortunately, most of their images are now significantly degraded by mould contamination, the result of extensive human visitation and air conditioning. Lessons learnt about the protection of such sites was important, as we were given another chance. In 1994, along the river Ardeche near the Pont d Arc, Jean Marie Chauvet discovered the caves which have taken his name. The Chauvet caves are the new motherlode of cave art. These caves are kept almost pristine, not open to the public and only accessible to researchers for a few hours each year. Check out Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. #thebasicurgetopaint #letsmakelemonade

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