When does sculpture begin? This exhibition presents eighteen Ice Age objects from the British Museum which suggest that its origins could reach as far back as 13,000 years.
Ice Age Sculpture is the second in a series of intriguing Gallery 4 shows that examine natural materials as sculptural objects.
Overshadowed by their more famous counterparts, the cave paintings of Lascaux, Niaux and Altamira, these ingeniously small and perfectly formed objects were found in locations across South Western France. Here they are presented as art for the first time and they invite us to reflect on the way that carving transforms natural forms and materials.
The objects date from the age of the great painted sanctuaries in the caves of South Western France. They were created by people who lived by hunting, and as a group, they demonstrate the quality of carved and engraved images made with stone implements.
Some depict their subjects – animals and women – with remarkable realism; others are sketched, abstracted, caricatured and sometimes surreal. Equally, the manner in which their makers have dealt with composition and perspective to produce works on bone, antler, ivory and stone compel us to recognize their skill and creativity and indeed to recognize them as artists. As modern onlookers, we see that although our intentions may be different, our artistry and intellectual achievements have been the same for a very long time.
Henry Moore Institute
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