Station: [114] Imagination

“We’re talking about the childhood of art, not art made by children“, declared the French prehistorian Gabriel des Mortillet about the cave paintings predominantly discovered in France, Spain and Italy.

Have a closer look at the pictures on the wall frieze. They have an impressive kind of beauty, don’t they? Look at the precision with which the proportions and even the perspectives have been portrayed – and look at the colours! But how old are these paintings?

Well, researchers were divided about this for a long time, but at the turn of the 20th century it was confirmed that they are early Homo-Sapien art dating from 40,000 to 14,000 years ago. The motifs were applied to the cave walls using earth colour pigments and charcoal and the horses, mammoths, rhinoceros and other predominantly large animals from the Ice Age hunters’ habitat were painted with the fingertips or blowpipes. Spurs and niches in the rocks were cleverly integrated into the portrayals and lend the pictures an astounding degree of vitality.

But who were the artists? Did they create them to tell stories or was this a form of hunting magic to ward off the creatures portrayed? Did shamans create them? ... And is there a specific style we can draw conclusions from? 

We know for certain that homo sapiens invented art: they were the first human beings who didn’t only concentrate on tasks necessary for survival, but also conveyed their surroundings, their dreams and their imagination in pictures that we can still enjoy today. 

They also made 3 dimensional models of animals, humans, and hybrid creatures out of bone, ivory, stone and clay like the ones you can see in the showcase.

The only work of art to have been found in Saxony is in the showcase in the centre of the room.