JILL COOK ::
ICE AGE ART

“From the Paleolithic we have only the scenery, while the signs of the actions are very rare and almost always incomprehensible. The consequence is that we can only study an empty scene and it is like we would be asked to retell a theatrical work without seeing it, starting from the wings showing a palace, a lake and a forest in the background”
(Leroi-Gourhan)

Have you ever wished to see, in an exhibition, the greatest prehistoric art collection conceived as a journey of human artistic creation from the dawn until nowadays? Opened on 7th February at the British Museum and extended until the first days of June, Ice Age Art, probably the exhibition of the year, is all this and not only since it offers the possibility to witness the origin of human creativity in a very important period of culture on the planet. As the exhibition was not to be missed, so is the book. The archaeologist Jill Cook, curator of the exhibition too, proposes a journey through the artistic route of human kind, privileging an aesthetic route, where very rare finds, dated since the beginnings known so far, 40.000 b.C., are put in relation, while time passes, with the renewed codes of representation. A singular book that explores, in 8 chapters, the extraordinary artistic production created during the latest European glacial era, between 40.000 and 10.000 years ago, the most ancient art in the world. An impressive iconographical apparatus allows us to see small mammoth ivory and stone sculptures, engravings and jewels, in other words the treasures of Paleolithic art. Among the most famous works, The Lion Man from the Stadel cavern, the so called Venuses from Dolní Věstonice and Willendorf, the Horse of Vogelherd and the most ancient musical instruments known so far, some flutes made out of bones of swans. A new point of reference, in short, of the studies on prehistorical art, counting on what has been advanced about the chronological dating of the finds in the most recent years, thanks to the new technologies, and a further step forward thanks to the contribution of the neurosciences, that’s why “it may be said that all art is the product of the modern brain and the images from the ice age are part of the long history of art”.

Augusto Petruzzi
08.07.2013

JILL COOK
Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind
The British Museum, 2013

web: www.britishmuseum.org