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    • #5744
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

      Many people claim that prehistoric imagery is abstract or abstracted. How do you react to this? Use examples.

       

    • #5890
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      I don’t completely understand the concept of what abstract art is but according to google abstract art “does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures” and while I do see the abstract aspect in the prehistoric art I don’t think it is completely abstract. After all, in the Chauvet cave, the Lascaux cave, and bison sculptures clearly show depictions of animals, perhaps the Altimira cave was a little more abstract. The two statues of the women as well as the lion-human could be seen as abstract I guess, however to me they seem very precise, I don’t think the creator of these figures intended them to be abstract. Another definition online said abstracted was “showing a lack of concentration on what is happening around one” and I don’t think these works of art fit that definition, as the artists were clearly concentrated when creating them. Even the monuments like Stonehenge and Newgrange, while perhaps at first glance seem to be abstract actually were built with a purpose in mind, like the “roof box” in Newgrange that is created to let light pass in at a certain time of the year, to me that seems as if it were created with very precise detail.

      • #6081
        Valene
        Participant

        I agree that these art pieces seem very precise and recognizable as actual images and animals. Abstract in what I understand it to be would not be what I would call any of these pieces as well. I am assuming life in this ancient time period was much more survival driven and I would think that people had too many other things to do than create art that didn’t have an important an vital meaning to their everyday lives.

        • #6125
          Kaylyn Kelly
          Participant

          Valene,
          I agree with your response fully! The images were very easy to see and make out. I do not see it as abstract art. Abstract art in my eyes is something hard to make out that you have to be creatively thinking when looking at it. You mentioned the prehistoric era individuals being more concerned about their survival then creating abstract images and I believe that is true.

          • #6236
            jlchamberlain
            Keymaster

            I agree, can you give some examples and elaborate more?

        • #6235
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Good point, I do agree that the intention was not to be simplistic to be abstract but to serve more of a utilitarian purpose.

      • #6105
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Kaitlyn, I like that you mentioned the lion-man as a possible piece that could be seen as abstract. Depending on the viewer, they might see the lion-man and think the creator wasn’t attempting to represent external reality because it’s a hybrid, nonexistent creature. But I agree that it appears to be really precise and doesn’t seem to completely fall under that definition. It’s not a real creature but it uses very precise details and is still recognizable to us as being both a man and a lion.

      • #6115
        mbsimington
        Participant

        I only partially agree with your point on the lion-human. Yes, it seems very precise, but sometimes that’s not the point of abstract art. It truly depends on if the creator was intending to create a hybrid or so as the note on the photo says: depict someone wearing a mask. The truth could be a mix of the two, as the lion-human could represent a link between someone wearing the mask during a ceremony and an actual lion.

    • #5960
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      Prehistoric imagery has a ‘doodled’ look to it, which is likely where the view that it is abstract comes from, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Prehistoric art is highly sophisticated, especially considering how long ago it was made. Abstract art typically focuses on colors and other techniques, rather than portraying reality. Every piece of pre-historic art, however, has a distinct purpose and was made with intention and thoughtfulness. They all depict reality. The “Venus of Willendorf’ served as a fertility statue, as did the “Venus of Dolni Vestonice.’ The similarities between these two pieces highlight the strategy of this art period and style. The Caves of Chauvet, Lascaux, and Altamira all have highly refined style of drawing. The lighting and movement of the animals make them appear to be in motion and projecting from the walls. This realistic style is not traditionally defined as abstract.

      • #6044
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Laura,

        I love how you described prehistoric imagery as a ‘doodled’ look – I think that describes its style (for lack of a better word) very well, which is especially seen in the stick figures. I also agree with your statement on the art being “sophisticated, especially considering how long ago it was made.” I think that is a great way of putting it – I couldn’t think of that word when writing my response, but I think it is a good way to put it. I think the statues might be riding the edge between ‘sophisticated’ and ‘abstract,’ however, considering the recurring style seen in the female statues. I agree with everything else you have to say though!

      • #6237
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Good point, glad you mentioned this.

    • #5985
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      I personally do not think that prehistoric art is ‘abstract’. As looked through the pieces that were assigned for this week, every one of them resembled something or someone– they were not ‘abstract’ in the way we understand abstract art today. It seems that all of the pieces had a purpose. They artists used their work to communicate meaning. The chauvet cave painting, for example, did not consist of abstract non-living blobs, colors, or shapes. I was a representation of various animals, crafted intentionally. The same is true of the bison reliefs. The artists wanted their work to appear real. The work over this period of time is far from ‘abstract’ in my opinion.

      • #5988
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To aastogsdill
        I thought you separating present-day words from the past was a great idea. It reminds ourselves that todays meaning of abstract is different. I also agree with your comments about how each piece had a purpose. Materials and time were not a luxury in the past. Making it almost certain that what they were making was important. Great job!

        • #6238
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Can you elaborate on your view of modern day “abstract art”? Why do you think it was important for these civilizations to depict the images as more realistic, what purpose did that serve?

      • #6089
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Aubri – I do agree that I think the art in the Prehistoric wing does have a purpose of some sort. It seems as if they were created out of intention, and not just boredom. I have always thought that abstract art itself also has intention and purpose, although it may be interpreted by the viewer. The fact that the art in the Prehistoric wing does not always seem to be representational art with hyperrealistic features, such as the cave paintings, makes me think that maybe it is appropriate to coin the art as abstract.

      • #6116
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        To Aubri,
        I agree with you on your thoughts that the cave art is not abstract but was the artists attempt to convey their message with the tools and techniques that were available. I think that the relief Bison are a great example of how they strived to create realistic looking images going so far as to add lines that we now recognize as main and long hair. The artist intent we may never know but we can appreciate the images they made.

      • #6122
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        aastogsdill,
        I to believe that the paintings had a purpose and you could also tell what it is. I also can agree that their work back than was a way to communicate through art and that none of the work was abstract.

        • #6239
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great comment Bob, I totally agree! I think it is just fascinating how the artists used the natural shapes of the rock and the shadows of the light to bring the figures to life.

      • #6134
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        Aubri,

        I agree that the cave painting did have a purpose to them and the were created with earth tone based colors so it wouldn’t seem abstract. As well as when the bison where created out of clay, they were made to look exactly like a bison does. That was the main art piece I felt to be not even relatively close to abstract, however, as you said our from of abstract art from that of the prehistoric period was most likely completely different.

      • #6154
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Aubri, I like your points about the importance of each piece of prehistoric art to the people creating them. I think a big source of contention on this question is the proper definition of “abstract”. Many people define “abstract art” in the modern sense, as nonsensical or devoid of realism. However, the definition I was pulling from defined “abstract/abstraction” as depicting something non-real in a more general sense, such as a fictional creature. Using different definitions of abstraction, do you think your opinion would change at all? Why or why not?

    • #5986
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      To Laura Barber
      I definitely agree with your view on what abstract is and how pre-historic art/imagery differ in meanings. Abstract is usually meant to be applied to the creation. Also with no evidence to what the individual was thinking we can’t assume that was their intention. Your example of “The Venus of Willendorf” and “Venus of Dolni Vestonice” was well chosen. Great ideas!

      • #6240
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Thanks for throwing in that definition. Great questions too, I am curious how some of you guys might answer?

    • #5987
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      I believe that prehistoric imagery is abstract to present day people. But as for prehistoric imagery being abstract in its creation, I do not believe so. First we don’t know if the individual’s intentions were to paint the piece to be abstract. “The Man and Woman of Cernavoda’ is a great example. Without the knowledge of the creator, we do not know if it’s meant to be perceived that way. Art has become complex over time, but the meaning put into art has always stayed the same. Whether it’s meant to share a depiction, story, culture, creativity, or emotion.

      • #6099
        Celina Batchelder
        Participant

        Hi Miranda,

        I agree that we will never truly know the intent behind these pieces – whether they are meant to be abstract or not. I always like to consider how we make today’s sculptures, typically in class, and under the direction of an instructor. If I didn’t have these modern day means, my heart would probably look pretty abstract too. I think that the abstractness may stem from having to make things off of memory, and not having the large sum of tools we have today to create our pieces of art.

      • #6106
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Miranda, would the prehistoric art have been considered abstract to those in that time period? Maybe in a way, some of their symbols or figures were created to be abstract, such as the exaggeration of their women figurines or the lion-man. I found a quote by Arshile Gorky on Artists’ Network that says, “Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes.’ If people in the prehistoric time didn’t see larger women or the animal-human hybrids like they created, does that mean that a lot of their art could have been leaning more towards abstract when it was created? Or do you think their definition would have been very different than ours?

        • #6241
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Interesting point about creating from memory!

    • #6038
      Maggie May
      Participant

      I think that when individuals state that pre-historic art is ‘abstracted’ they may be referring to the lines and forms created, which are simple by modern standards. It could also be that pre-historic art is sometimes labelled ‘abstract’ because as observers, we naturally view all art through the lens of our own experiences with modern life. Pre-historic art is indeed ‘abstracted’ or distanced from our modern world. However, at the time pre-historic art pieces were created, their means of creation were considered complex and elaborate. The art created was a vital part of both Paleolithic and Neolithic societies. It served a variety of purposes, from symbolically communicating fertility and amiability of their peoples (Woman of Willendorf and WOMAN FROM DOLNÍ VÊSTONICE) to providing a place to bury those with status within their societies (NEWGRANGE and STONEHENGE <during certain periods>).For the people of those societies and cultures, their art was far from abstract.

      • #6057
        Aubri Stogsdill
        Participant

        To Maggie May:

        I love what you said about us understanding art through our personal experience of art. I hadn’t thought of it in that way. Initially, I didn’t think this art could be considered ‘abstract’ but after reading your post I can see why some may see it that way. Great post! (:

      • #6090
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Maggie –
        Thank you for your post! I love what you said about viewing art through a lens of our own experiences. This is so true, and art definitely is often times open for a viewers interpretation. Of course, it is very hard to know the true purpose of prehistoric art, since we can’t just ask the artists about their own creations to receive a meaning. I don’t think that all prehistoric art is abstract, but to some extent I do think that some of it actually is. Like the cave drawings or some of the carvings, since these are simplified representations of reality I would say that it is abstract art.
        Thank you for your post!

    • #6043
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      I think to say that prehistoric imagery as a whole is abstract or abstracted is being somewhat ignorant – there are definitely some abstract aspects to prehistoric imagery / art, but not all of it falls under that category. I think the most abstract aspects of prehistoric imagery are the things we still cannot explain today or even begin to speculate about (ex: shapes in Newgrange). However, some of it is rather straightforward and we can narrow down the potential goals the original ‘artists’ had when creating the piece, such as the pottery found under the ‘Neolithic Pottery’ link, which is speculated to have been used as a mortar in ceremonial practices.

      If we are to strictly observe the cave art itself as the ‘prehistoric imagery,’ then I believe it to only be slightly ‘abstracted’ and not entirely ‘abstract’ (haha). Once again I think the cave paintings would be mostly used for historic purposes (intentional or not) and storytelling, with the occasional ceremonial reasons. I am not sure how much symbolism or any of those abstract concepts could be thrown into them, because, similar to a story, the audience is what gives the piece meaning.

      • #6078
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        I’m wondering about your comment on how the only things we could consider abstract are the ones we can’t understand or explain. That’s a good point, some on these things may be abstract, but what if some of the unexplained images are of things that people from that time period would be able to immediately recognize and name? I’m thinking of that video out there where children are shown telephones from the 70’s, and have no idea what they are.

        • #6243
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great post Lucas. I think you bring up an important point about the intentions of the maker or artist.

    • #6059
      Erica Kingkade
      Participant

      I do not agree with the statement that prehistoric art is abstract. If you look at the sculptures such as women willendorf or man and woman from cernavoda it is obvious that early art was depicting humans. This is also evident in the depictions of animals and hunting often found in cave paintings. We should take into account the type and materials they had available at the time and the rudimentary tools they had. That being said you may find some abstract concepts in the deities that they worshiped during that time.
      I like Miranda’s point that “without the knowledge of the creator, we do not know if it’s meant to be perceived that way.” This still holds true for art in general and because these pieces of art were from a time much different than the one we live in now it is hard to speculate on the true meaning or purpose.

    • #6063
      Allie Eby
      Participant

      Many people claim that prehistoric imagery is abstract or abstracted. How do you react to this? Use examples.

      Like most things in regards to prehistoric art, I believe it is very difficult to speak in absolutes, especially considering that I lack the context to properly understand the purpose of the art’s creation. While it seems true that some of the art is abstract/abstracted, other pieces within the same medium and category of work don’t seem to be. For example, some of the earliest art pieces found are cave paintings. While some like the paintings in the Chauvet Cave seem almost to function like encyclopedias that could serve to show lifelike representations of local animals, which I would not consider abstraction, others like the Lascaux Cave paintings show what I interpret to be a fictional creature, which could be considered abstract. I draw a similar comparison between the carvings depicting humans in believable poses and scenarios like the Man and Woman from Cernavoda vs. depictions of fictional figures like the Lion-Human. Overall, I believe that without proper context of the culture and time in which a work was created, the abstract nature of prehistoric art can only be speculated.

    • #6066
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Hi Laura,
      I completely agree with your view on the realistic style of these historic pieces of art. Considering how long ago they were created and with such limited resources they definitely seem to be very sophisticated works.

      • #6245
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I totally agree, great use of examples!

    • #6067
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Hi Aubri,
      I think you made a great point when you said all the pieces had a purpose! I feel like the only way they could be seen as abstract is if someone was to completely ignore how long ago these with a very small supply of resources. But exactly as you said, if all the pieces were meant to look like something and have purpose I don’t see how they could be considered abstract.

    • #6075
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      I don’t think that’s entirely right, I don’t think we were capable of that yet. Prehistoric art was definitely trying to represent reality outside of the artist, but relied heavily on exaggerating important features.

      In the cave wall art, the animals all have large, rectangular masses for bodies, and twiggy limbs by comparison. I believe the meat of the animal was most important, so the middle mass was exaggerated. A woman’s butt was attractive because we used to be quadrupeds, so they exaggerated the booty (and we still do). Large breasts and a rounded stomach indicated a woman was fertile/pregnant, so the artist made em big.

      Prehistoric artists were like modern cartoon artists, exaggerating the important parts that were universally recognizable and important, and downplayed the bits we didn’t want to eat or mate with. Feet and hands weren’t too important.

      If prehistoric art were abstract, we wouldn’t be able to walk into one of those caves and immediately recognize the animals, and immediately feel emotionally bowled over by the experience.

      • #6103
        ckocsis
        Participant

        This is interesting! I completely agree with how the artists focused things that were most important to them, but I interpreted that as abstraction. I think the idea that it is more like comic book art makes sense, but I think there are different levels of abstraction, so the figures wouldn’t necessarily need to be unrecognizable to be considered abstract.

        • #6246
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Raven, you are right on. The vast majority of prehistoric art was focused on interpretation of surroundings and exaggerating the most important features or aspects what was being portrayed.

    • #6080
      Valene
      Participant

      In modern terms abstract is usually shapes and lines and unrecognizable images which is nothing of what I saw in the images from this weeks examples. However, since I was obviously not alive when the sculptures and drawings where made it is plausible to think the artists took liberties with proportions and details and had a more abstract idea of their pieces. The sculpture showing a female in the example of the Nude Venus could have had exaggerated breasts and waistlines to show an idea of what the creator thought of all woman’s bodies and the beauty of those body parts. Since the term abstract was likely not in existence in this ancient time period I honestly think the art found would have been realistic in nature and meant to show something to future generations or to worship in ritual or belief systems.

      • #6098
        Celina Batchelder
        Participant

        Hi Valene,

        I agree with you – we weren’t alive then, so there’s no way to know for sure! I agree that the sculptures depicting females, for example, Woman of Willendorf, may have been created with an ideal specimen in mind. I also think that the abstractness that some of the art does display is likely from the tools they had at their disposal to create these works.

        • #6247
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          You got it, Valene! The exaggerations were not necessarily intended to be abstractions rather to highlight importance. By todays standards we might simply perceive the artists liberties as abstractions, but who is really to say of that was the intent?

    • #6083
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      When I think of abstract art, I feel it is a purposeful act to create an interpretation of an object that is different than it appears, for the sole sake of its interpretation. As well, most modern artists that create abstract art, are doing so in response to modern social issues, for example, in response to industrialization or consumerism. When I view the art of this week, I do not see these pieces as qualifying under either category. I think one thing to keep in mind is not only the skill level, as these artists are literally creating art, not just a piece of art but the entire idea of art. They are inventing the means to create, the medium and the idea. That is not abstract, that is learning, much like a child learns to draw or write. Yes, they may appear rudimentary and abstract by our modern means (in some cases at least) but that doesn’t qualify them as abstract, rudimentary or even unskilled, as some of the examples of art we are unsure exactly how these early artists created their work, and dare I say, cannot be replicated without modern tools.

      I think the most important issue is the intent. Did the artist create what we define as an abstract representation of a woman because the artist wanted to create it in a different manner than he saw it? Or was in crafted in that manner for what it does represent? A woman with large breasts and large hips would be thought to be more fertile and more likely to reproduce. A woman with large buttocks and thighs would probably have the means to survive a lean hunting season. These are representations of what was sought after for their survival, with emphasis on what was the most important attributes. Combine this with the materials and tools available and I feel this entirely disqualifies these works as abstract art.

    • #6085
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      The idea of abstraction during prehistoric times is actually fun to think about. If we think about cave paintings, many of them seem to be a means of communicating a plan, likely these artists were drawing as they were telling. Not many can throw out a quick realistic drawing of what we are discussing, time likely attributed to the abstract nature of these. As far as the sculptures of that time go, I imagine their tools and materials were rather limited. Simplistic is often more sturdy. Also maybe their societal ideals were represented in these pieces. The same way we “value” certain physical attributes and portray them in our art, isn’t that also abstract?
      Or maybe they were a little bit dumb. Maybe their instinctual need to survive weighed so heavy that their brains could develop in the areas that ours can and do. Maybe math has really hooked us up, I mean proportions are super duper and used constantly in attempting to create realistic art.

    • #6086
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Hi Tamara-
      Im still not fully sure that Im responding to posts properly, but hopefully this reaches you. Its interesting to me, the differences in defining abstract. I always thought of abstract as this realm that covered everything beyond realistic. I really appreciate your comment about artist intent. This is a beautiful idea to think of and has a way of connecting ourselves to the artist of that time. Enjoy your weekend!

    • #6088
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      The basis of this discussion begins with definition of both of these terms. Abstractive art is art that derives some or all of it’s composition from examples from reality. Abstract art is not bound by these constraints and may have no basis at all in the real visionary world.

      I feel that many of the cave paintings and the Bison appear to be more abstractive rather than abstract. There are reasons why they appear more abstract. The artists were working with the skills and materials that were available at that time. They were restricted by their lack of understanding of linear perspective. The first linear perspective was used by Fillipo Brunelleshi and was first painted in 1415 A.D. It depicted the Baptistery in Florence. The artist did try to convey a sense of perspective by displaying the animals from two different perspective a side view and a front view depicting the head and horns of the animals. Without linear perspective the depictions appear to be flat or more abstract. In these cases the abstract appearance comes from the artist lack of skills that would not be available for thousands of years.

      There were also some social/political reasons for denying the authenticity of these drawings and to question the timeline. In the movie, Finding Altimaria, (2016), Directed by Hugh Hudson, the Spanish Catholic Church is depicted as wanting to deny both the timeline and authenticity of these drawings. Their existence brought concerns about the dogma associated with the Catholic creation stories. By denying their timeline the church was able to cast doubt on what they represented. They considered these depictions as more abstract and not abstract

      • #6325
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Your posts are showing up correctly and thank you for your thoughtful responses!

    • #6091
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      Tate states, “the term [abstract] can be applied to art that is based an object, figure or landscape, where forms have been simplified or schematised.” I always thought that abstract art was something that is hard to define or interpret. I really like the definition that Tate gives, because they describe abstract art as something that was created with purpose and intention, something that represents various things such as virtues, morals, emotions, etc.
      Looking over some Paleolithic art, such as the Lion-Human or the Chauvet Cave, I would think that in some sense prehistoric art can be abstract. Especially the cave paintings, as these seem to be simplified figures and objects that represents something of that time. Looking over the section of the horses in the Chauvet Cave, it looks abstract, but it seems to be telling the story of a aging horse. And this just might have been the purpose of many of the art pieces that we see from that era, to tell a story.
      Now, I don’t think that all prehistoric art is abstract. Like the Neolithic Pottery or the Newgrange, these seem to have been created with intentions for use rather than for interpretation.
      In short, to me it seems that some of the art from prehistoric times were used for story-telling while some of the art was created for uses in various rituals.

    • #6097
      Celina Batchelder
      Participant

      Prehistoric art may have an abstract element to it, but I wouldn’t necessarily call all of it abstract because it still does depict firmly what it was attempting to. Some prehistoric art, such as the Lion Human, and some cave depictions, are certainly abstract in nature. I think the abstract aura that prehistoric art gives off may just be an element of the style back then, or it could be from the tools they had to work with to create their art. For example, when we want to draw an animal, like a buffalo for example, we can look at images of buffalos in books, look at images online or even look up other art. The prehistoric people had their memory to go off of, and they used that when constructing (unless they had a deceased animal nearby – I supposed this could be an exception). For the woman sculptures, we can definitely tell that they are women, however, even though we are able to find preserved remains, etc., we will still never truly know for an absolute fact what the average human looked like, so there’s no way to truly tell if these are abstract of not.

      • #6326
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great post! I love that you bring up story telling, this is a very important concept in art history and history in general. Such an important way of passing on information.

    • #6101
      ckocsis
      Participant

      Although it’s impossible to know the intent behind making these pieces of art and whether or not they were intentionally abstracted, I believe that they were. The skill required to make a lot of these pieces, like the Venus of Willendorf, makes me think that if the artist wanted the figurine to be realistic, they could have easily done it. Also, in this figurine, the female form is abstracted in a way to accentuate the parts of the body that would be most important for reproduction. This also implies that this was intentional abstraction. Another example of this would be the Lascaux cave paintings, where the meaty part of the animals bodies are accentuated and the heads and legs, parts I would think were less important to prehistoric people, are minimized.

    • #6104
      tmbergan
      Participant

      The definition of abstract art, as described on tate.org.uk, is “art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms, and gestural marks to achieve its effect.’ Prehistoric art doesn’t fit this definition. All of the little statues we’ve seen do seem to be pretty accurate depictions of reality. Granted, some of the women figures are a bit rounder than what a real human woman would be, they’re still fairly accurate for being such old creations. As for the drawings in caves, they do have a simpler look to them in comparison to the clay works, but they still have the accuracy in portraying real animals rather than just being shapes and colors. Some of the stick figures or symbols they drew and carved into walls might lean a little more toward being seen as abstract, but overall I don’t think that prehistoric art can be considered abstract art.

    • #6114
      mbsimington
      Participant

      There are quite a few definitions of abstract, and one that I particularly find suitable is that abstract art is meant to represent ideas and concepts as opposed to representing actual, tangible things. A good comparison would be between the different sculptures of people from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times and cave paintings. The different cave paintings provided in the prehistoric art wing here all show a representation of tangible concepts:animals. They depict a group of horses, bison, and many more animals that actually exist and the images produced resemble the animals closely enough for them to be easily identified. This is different to the sculptures of people, as they moreso provide an idea as opposed to a representation of a specific person. The women in particular, with exaggerated hips and breasts, could be a symbol for fertility, women in general, or motherhood, and in my opinion only the people from that time, maybe only the person that created them, really knows for sure. To say that all prehistoric art is abstract would be an understatement. Like art today, there is some that is abstract and some that isn’t, and in a lot of cases, whether or not a piece is abstract relies on the viewer and their subjective observations and experiences relating to the piece.

    • #6117
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      The first point is that most of the sculptures and paintings were not meant to elicit joy in those viewing them. They were meant to perform a function. As long as a general understanding of what was trying to be represented was gained, an accurate depiction was not needed. Another point is that the carving, drawing, and painting implements that prehistoric artists were using were rudimentary at best. They were not using brushes and chisels. They were using branches and sharp rocks. When using those items, details would not be easily obtained and therefore the final piece was more abstract. A third point is in many of the carvings they wanted to draw attention to different areas such as a large belly and large breasts to show fertility.

    • #6119
      Aaron Topkok
      Participant

      I don’t think people made those art out abstract. The Lascaux painting were most likely painted of events that were going on or stories of the people have had. I feel like they created artwork to preserve events. I don’t think very much of them created art out of abstract until later.

    • #6124
      Kaylyn Kelly
      Participant

      I don’t agree that prehistoric art is abstract. I think the art of today is considered abstract so when I look at the art of today and then look at the prehistoric era I do not think the art from long ago is abstract. Abstract in my eyes is when a painting or image is not clear. You have to use your creative mind to understand the image. The art of the prehistoric area seemed to have structure and I was able to make out what I saw with no issues. The images had meaning and needed to be clear for others to understand.

      • #6327
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Can you elaborate on your definition of abstract, and elaborate on the importance that these painting would have served if they were intended to tell stories? What other examples can you give?

    • #6126
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      I think that prehistoric art is not abstract simply because you can see what the artist is try to develop. There paintings and sculptures are clear as to what they are evening the painting in the caves you can tell what they are. the prehistoric art is far from not having a physical or concrete existence. Example i would have to use is the sculpture of the woman and how you can tell it was a woman with the many craving of the many parts of a woman, nothing about that craving was abstracted.

      • #6328
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Why would it be important for these works to be clear? What purpose would that serve? Can you provide more examples to support your point?

    • #6133
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      I do think that most prehistoric art is not a form of abstract art, because everything captured in the artwork was something you were able to identify easily and there weren’t any colorful tones or things that stood out that would make it abstract art. For example the only one that were some what abstract would have to be the lion-man in my opinion. Only because it had features of that of a lion and some of a man and that isn’t what a vast a mount of people are expecting to see.

    • #6137
      Jess
      Participant

      When I think of abstract art, these prehistoric paintings and sculptures are a far cry from the definition of abstract. Abstract art is essentialy art that you cant immediately look at and say, yeah thats a dog or look at those cats. However, that is exactly what we see happening here. We see the image that the creator was going for. We can see that the sculptures are of women and that there are 13 different animals on the cave wall. These art pieces are by all means, not abstract. I would however, say that Stonehenge in the Neolithic art may be abstract. I say this because to most it seems like a bunch of rocks that are just out in a field. Was it a building at one point? Is it really an intentional piece of artwork? Since we know that it is artwork, what is it designed to be? I believe Stonehenge to be abstract because I know I am looking at art, I just don’t know WHAT I am looking at.

      • #6329
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Can you elaborate on your definitions and give us some more examples to support your point?

    • #6139
      Gabe
      Participant

      The Week 2 assignment says it is due Friday the 26th, which isn’t a real time… so I hope this is ok!

      Most of the artwork that was in the Paleo and Neolithic exhibits were not what I’d think of as ‘modern abstract’ art which tends not to be representational at all and instead plays with pure form, shape, color, etc. However it seems fair to me to say that there is a high level of abstraction present in the ancient artwork. The Lion Man obviously does not actually exist and the images of women overemphasize their breasts, bellies, and hips in a way which leaves reality behind. Also with the animals being rendered in composite perspective, showing their eyes strait on, but their head in profile. I think that the people who were creating the art knew that what they made was not ‘photorealistic’ and knew what a real animal looked like, but they were creating a representation which captured the relevant details about what they were trying to portray. That these details resulted in a image that looks less like the actual object I think is what abstraction is all about. I personally like taking and emphasizing the aspects of an object which are important because for me, that is what art is about – revealing the significance of a particular aspect of reality. All art is ultimately abstraction.

      • #6149
        Jessi Willeto
        Participant

        RE: Gabe
        I liked your last sentence “I personally like taking and emphasizing the aspects of an object which are important because for me”, it hits the nail on the head. That is why I think it can be loosely defined as abstract art, because of that use of gesture and emphasis on the parts that they consider important of symbolic. Though it is in now way modern abstract (I agree), that would be absurd.

    • #6140
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      I feel that the prehistoric art is does not fall into modern ideas of abstract art. The images are precise and are easily identified for what they are. I do not feel like the prehistoric man spent hours, days or months on their art; therefore it was not as detailed as it could be. The lion-man could be viewed as abstracted art as it is a not real, then again it could be intentional, perhaps to tell a story like the boogie man.

    • #6147
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      I think it is the gentle use of gesture in prehistoric art. It’s not literal depictions but often suggestions of whatever they are implying, even exaggerated to show the importance of a feature. The venus Willendorf is a perfect example. She is curvy, with enlarged breasts and a stomach, to depict the importance of fertility. These are suggestive to that implication, and it is obviously not anatomically correct to proportion. It does perhaps portray the intention behind the art pieces better with use of abstraction. A lot of prehistoric imagery is more symbolic than literal BECAUSE it was used often for spiritual or ritualistic purposes.

      • #6330
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Hi guy! Can you give us some definitions of the abstract art or modern abstract to support your point? Could you elaborate on the significance of prehistoric art and the brevity in which some of these artists may have created such works?

    • #6148
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Guy Gaswint
      On the contrary, I believe that they did in fact spend hours, days, and even months on their art. Think of it like this: They are often nomadic, hunting and gathering and fighting for survival. The only times that they would have a chance to create art is times of peace and leisure, but they certainly did not have it in excess as we do. Their art can be said to be abstract because they did not have the spare time that modern humans have to perfect and detail their art. I think they created their art with strong purpose and intention regardless.

    • #6158
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      I think the prehistoric imagery is abstract in the sense that it is more a portrayal of an idea than an actual, individual subject. In the case of the Woman of Wildendorf, her lack of identifying marker seem to indicated she is not representing a woman, but women in general.It is also quite possible, however, that tools and knowledge sufficient to create art with fine details wasn’t yet obtainable this early in human history. Perhaps what we might consider abstract I the most detailed work they were able to achieve with the technology available to them.

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