Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Cave Of Forgotten Dreams"

A couple of years ago, an essay in the New Yorker got me completely hooked to the subject of cave art. In my opinion, there are few topics as mesmerizing and as mysterious as cave art. The subject raises endlessly engaging questions: what were the impulses behind those paintings? Why didn't all early communities produce cave art? How did the concept of art travel from continent to continent? Does the existence of cave art prove that art is just as essential as food, air and water? And just how the hell did cavemen stand for hours and hours in dark, dank dangerous places and paint without proper tools and equipment?

So while I was hungrily scouring the library for books and articles on cave art, I came across this fantastically produced book by Mr. Cave Art himself, Jean Clottes. I found it much, much better than your typical coffee-table art fare. The book covers not just cave art in France and Europe but also in other parts of the world, including India. (That last link is to the Bradshaw Foundation's website, an excellent source of information if you are interested in the subject. (BTW, anyone know of a well-produced book exclusively about Indian cave art?)

All of the above is just an excuse to say Werner Herzog has a new film out on this very subject. Even if Herzog did nothing more than focus his camera on a little dark spot on a dirty cave wall and just spoke about art, caves, early man and civilization for 90 minutes, I would still be there to watch it. (Herzog's buddy loved the film. Cinematical describes the film as "nothing short of mind-boggling".)

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