Altamira Cave Paintings: detail and reconstruction
c.13, 000-11,000 b.c.
Mural, Altamira Caves, Spain
The sensational mural paintings found in Altamira have been called -in a somewhat enthusiastic way- “the Sistine Chapel from the Palaeolithic”. The extraordinary realistic figures are painted with a black manganese contour and an ochre and red filling, in such way that the figures have a remarkable volumetric quality.
Perhaps these paintings are a primitive “hunting guide” to teach other members of the tribe how to hunt the animals, and where to find them; or perhaps they are a kind of magical spell to attract the animals. Anyways, it is evident that Palaeolithic Art is indissolubly linked to the hunting. And as soon as such activity was no longer the most important, humans left the caves, and these primitive drawings remained ignored until 1879, when a young girl named Maria de Sautuola discovered one of the world's earliest art masterpieces. Art without any intention of being Art, perhaps, but Art, after all.
Text by G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com