Common themes abound in the experiences of those who have stood before the powerful prehistoric images of Lascaux. They use words like elating and intoxicating. They tell of feeling the sense of profound awe, of finding a new respect for life and our Universe.
Ian Tattersall, curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, eloquently described his encounter in Lascaux as “overawed by the magnificence”.
Why does Lascaux create such strong and definite emotions in people?
Joaquin Vaqueros Turcios, acclaimed Spanish painter and sculptor, explains that all art, no matter the age, is contemporary if it touches the viewer.
But why does the art of Lascaux touch us so deeply?
How can 17,000 year old paintings on limestone walls in the ground below the landscape of France move a modern human being to tears or dance?
The feeling of connection, of continuity with the artists of Lascaux is inescapable. We stand in their presence; we stand in communion with them. The images they painted on Lascaux’s craggy walls are familiar to us, endearing. They touch in us the innocence of another time, perhaps of an earlier place in our own lives.
We marvel at the skill of another’s hand. We pay homage to the creative impulse, that leap from abstract thought to image which separates us, stands us alone in the kingdom of living things.