Perhaps the poisonous atmosphere only came about once the cave was sealed by the landslide. That would make sense. Several long sealed openings to the cave have been found, so once upon a time it could have had fresh air flowing through it. And for all we know, those primordial breezes could have made the cave sing, which would only add to it’s power.
I think I’ve found my art form. Impressionism and Realism. Early Impressionism. REALLY REALLY early. I followed a link from Stoaty the Woozle to the Chauvet cave paintings in southern France. Unbelievable. Drawn by hand from colored mud. Minimalist and perfect, each line exactly right the very first time, yet the shading and nuance and interrelation with the three dimensional surface of the cave walls gives them a life of their own and nearly demands that you give the drawings far deeper meaning than just pictures of animals. Animals conveyed with a sense of motion and emotion. The cave bear painted above was one of the most fearsome mammals to ever walk the earth, yet he looks happy and nearly comical. Art of the purest form. Rendered in the dark by the rudest form of torchlight, in a cave atmosphere so high in radon and carbon dioxide that it’s nearly fatal. How’s that for suffering for your creativity?
There are hundreds of links to these cave paintings, which were only discovered in 1994. The drawings were created over a 10,000 year period, which is amazing enough right there, a period more than twice as long as our awareness of “human civilization”, yet the cave continued to be used by Ice Age lions and tigers and bears the whole time. Oh my. Then a rockfall sealed off the cave for 20,000 years and preserved the works as a natural museum. Due to the bad atmosphere and the fragility of the art works, the cave is off limits to the general public.
Mysteries from the ancient past. Creative skill levels unguessed at by anthropology. A religious shrine, a center for manhood initiation, or just the original party shack where you’d get high just being there? Far out, man, let’s tag these walls.
The Chauvet cave paintings are nearly twice as old as the more famous cave paintings in Lascaux, though they show similar creatures. Perhaps the same artist colony moved there once the first cave was sealed off. We will never know.
I’m hoping that high quality prints of some of these are available, though even the most meticulous rendition would lose most of it’s meaning when taken out of context and rendered on a flat canvas. This one is my favorite, and it’s only half of the original drawing. I have no idea how big the original is, but I’d swoon to be able to own an accurate print of it, done on pale leather to mimic the surface texture, about 5 by 8 or 12 feet. I’d hang it in an empty room, barely and indirectly lit by soft yellow orange light to weakly attempt to recreate the original illumination. The effect would be transportive, and that’s with my 21st Century arrogance and sophistication. Seeing the real one for the first time by torch light must have been mind blowing for Ugh the caveman. The birth of art and perhaps religion as well.