Tag Archives: Stone Age Art

Ancient Nudes

12 Mar

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Husb and I have just come back from a few days in London being culture vultures. Top on our agenda was The British Museum. I always get in a visit whenever I’m in London. It’s one of my all-time favourite places. I’m embarrassed that it’s full of plunder from our imperialist past but it is so awesome to have all these magnificent cultural treasures in one place. And it’s free – well, mostly. We managed to get tickets for the Ice Age Art exhibition. It is truly amazing.

I’m often asked why I work mainly with the nude. It’s because it’s a very old tradition in European art, starting with the Greeks about 2,500 years ago (and a millenium or so before that, in Mesopotamia). But as I’ve just found out, this tradition was well established in Europe way back in the Stone Age. These magnificent sculptures of the female nudes (above) go back 20,000 to 30,ooo years in European culture. They are very voluptuous and celebrate pregnant women or those who have had a number of children. The figure from France was very influential on Picasso who had a copy in his studio.

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By the late Stone Age, about 13,000 years ago, the style of representing the female nude had changed to a more streamlined and abstract form, much less voluptuous. These could almost be Modiglianis. I was glad to see other people sketching at the exhibition, as drawing the artefacts helped me to connect with those ancient artists; trying to understand how they worked gave me a depth of analysis that I wouldn’t have achieved by taking photographs.

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