As Europe begins to open up to travelers again, it is more exciting than ever to think about the cultural treasures that lie ahead. For me, one of the greatest joys of travel is to personally associate with great art and architecture – which I have collected in a book. Top 100 Masterpieces in Europe. Here’s an old favorite:
The cave in Lascaux is amazing for how fashionable the human cave is. The walls are painted with animals – bears, wolves, bulls, horses, deer and cats – and even some extinct animals, such as the woolly mammoth. Homo sapiens are rarely seen, but there are human handprints.
All this was done about 20,000 years ago in the Stone Age, now in southwestern France. Before the advent of writing, metalwork, and agriculture, it was about four times older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The caves were painted not by the Hulking, herbaceous Neanderthals but by a fully formed Homo sapiens known as Cro-Magnon.
These are not raw doodles with charcoal-tipped sticks. Cave paintings were a sophisticated, expensive, and time-consuming engineering project designed and implemented around 18,000 BC by dedicated artists supported by a unified and stable culture. First, all their materials had to be taken to a cold, pitch-black, hard-to-reach place. (They did not live in these deep limestone caves.) The “canvas” was huge প্রধান the main caves in Las Vegas are longer than a football field, and some animals are depicted as being 16 feet tall. They built scaffolding to reach the roof and high walls. They ground the minerals with a mortar and pastel to mix the paints. They worked by torch and oil lamp. They prepared the scene by creating the main outline of the image with a Connect-the-Dots series point. This Cro-Magnon Michelangelos then built their Stone Age Sistine Chapels, balancing on the Vara.
The paintings are impressively realistic. Artists used wavy black outlines to suggest moving creatures. They use different pigment scores to get a range of colors. For their paint “brush”, they employed a kind of sponge made from animal skin. In another technique, they will draw an outline, then fill it with spray paint – blown through a tube made of hollow bone.
Abhishek Kalpana. Visitors will be taken deep into the cave, with the help of flashlights, into a cold, resonant, and other mundane chamber. Someone will light a torch and a lamp in the dark, and suddenly – Hush! Creatures running around caves like prehistoric movies will shake lives.
Why did the Stone Age people – whose lives were probably hard and uncertain – bother to create such an apparent luxury as art? No one knows. Maybe because, as hunters, they were magically drawing pictures to increase the supply of game. Or maybe they thought that if they could “master” the animal by drawing it, they could master it later in the war. Did they worship animals?
Or maybe the result of a universal human drive to create paintings, and these caves were the first art galleries in Europe to bring in the first tourists. While the caves are closed to today’s tourists, the carefully crafted replica caves give visitors a vibrant Stone Age experience.
Today, visiting Lascaux II and IV, as these replica caves are called, allows you to share a common experience with a caveman. You may feel a bond with these longtime people … or you may be amazed at how different they were from us. After all, the art remains the same as the human species – a mystery. And a surprise.