Our So-Called Primitive Ancestors…

As our gaze is turned back into the far distant past—possibly as far back as 40,000 years ago—we must confront not only the vastness of time but also the issue of progress.  Our ancient ancestors were not as “advanced as we are today with 21st century knowledge, technology, experience, etc.”—so what can we actually derive from glancing backwards into distant time?  In 1902, the artist Paul Klee wrote:  “I want to be as though newborn, knowing absolutely nothing about Europe; ignoring facts and fashions, to be almost primitive.”  And the artist August Macke exclaimed:  “Are not the savage artists, who have their own form, strong as the form of thunder?”  So what do we actually gain by looking backward into the centuries of time to our most ancient ancestors, what can we possibly learn?  Or is it, as Klee and Macke seem to suggest, more about finding what we have lost that our ancestors possessed and we want to get it back?  Your thoughts?

Lascaux Cave

Handprints from Lascaux Cave—ca. 15000+ years ago

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

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