Who Drew This?

Cave Painting, Lascaux, Dordogne, France. Photo by Ralph Morse for Life Magazine, 1947

The person who drew this did not have an art degree. Despite the gorgeous mark, cultural and historic relevance, and absolute domination of the art making timeline of the Paleolithic era, this person does not have a degree to back them up.

Who drew this? No one really knows. Some anthropologists suggest that the paintings had a ceremonial purpose, rather than a decorative one. This might suggest that the drawings were made by a spiritual leader of a group, or perhaps the person who did the best drawings (just as there is always a person in most communities who gets asked to do the art things—paint the backdrop for the school musical, design the t-shirt, etc) got to go with the spiritual leader and participate in the ceremony by drawing and painting. Or maybe everyone in the culture got to make art.

Art-making was an important part of this person’s life—maybe a crucial one—the act of his painting might have reassured everyone that the hunting was going to be successful that year, or that everyone would have fruitful dreaming, or that no one would come to smite them. This person probably did not have a fear of making the first mark unless, of course, they were ritually sacrificed after doing their afternoon of cave painting, and then that would be fear of making the last mark.

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