The Oldest Artwork in Human History


Near the Ardeche River (pronounced “arr-desh”) in southern France, less than 0.5 kilometers away, 3 explorers set out a few days before Christmas in 1994. While seeking drafts of air emanating from the ground which would point to the presence of caves, these explorers found a subtle airflow which was blockaded by rocks. The explorers found a narrow shaft which was cut into the cliffside, so narrow in fact that their bodies could just barely squeeze through it. Deep inside the cave the explorers stumbled upon the oldest known cave paintings in human history, twice as old as any other artistic depiction made by human hands. The cave itself had been perfectly sealed for tens of thousands of years which is why this 32,000 year old artwork was found in pristine condition. In honor of the lead discover Jean-Marie Chauvet (pronounced “zhan mah-ree sho-vee”), the cave was named “Chauvet Cave”. The French Ministry of Culture controls all access to the cave, an intervention which was rapidly implemented as this discovery was immediately understood as an enormous scientific find, perhaps one of the greatest anthropological and artistic discoveries ever made. Scientists and art historians are typically the only members of the public permitted access to Chauvet Cave, with archeologists, paleontologists, and geologists being the most common interdisciplinary teams provided entry

The First Mass Produced Items of the Ancient World


The first mass produced pieces of artwork were the ancient Egyptians shabtis which were essentially miniature mummies that the ancient Egyptians believed had magical powers and were therefore buried with the dead. Shabtis were comprised of Egyptian faience which is a type of glass ceramic material made from sand. Egyptian faience is referred to as such in order to distinguish it from faience, which is a tin glazed pottery associated with Faenza, Italy. The idea of Egyptian faience was to replicate semiprecious stones like turquoise lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, which at the time was more expensive than gold. The recipe for Egyptian faience is 90% crushed silica, crushed fine natron salt to act as a flux, crushed limestone, and then the coloring with blue being the most popular, a color achieved through the use of pure copper oxide. Water was introduced to turn this composition from a granular mix into a dough like substance. Natron salt which is a type of baking soda, is the key ingredient to this recipe as it rises to the surface when baked and lowers the overall temperature at which sand melts and becomes glass. The statues are left to stand for 24 or more hours as this helps the salt grow on the surface through a chemical reaction process as oxygen within the ambient environment mixes with the ingredients inside the Egyptian faience

The Etymology of the Term “Baroque” and “Rococo”


The term “Baroque” is derived from the Portuguese term “barroco” which means a “misshapen pearl” as it was thought that the baroque period was similar to the Renaissance, but not as perfect as the Renaissance, a sort of wonky replica of sorts. The term “Rococo” is derived from the French term “rocaille” (pronounced “rock-eye”) which means “shell work” and typically refers to the late Baroque period. Rococo implies an art form which is shapeless and overloaded with detail, and the term was originally meant as an insult towards the Baroque and Rococo artform, as is the case with many forms of artwork when they first emerge (e.g. graffiti etc.)

Societal Changes Within the United Kingdom Which Occurred​ After World War I


Post World War I in the United Kingdom, many battle hardened veterans no longer viewed themselves as servants to the wealthier classes of society and demanded social equality, suddenly realizing that work in factories and within dense city populations could provide a better standard of living than within small economically cut off villages. Suddenly, without warning, aristocratic estate owners went from paying 6% on their income tax, to a much higher rate in line with what a common person would pay. Due to this massive increase in the amount of income now required to continue the running of an estate, many were demolished during the 1950’s and 1960’s and much of the artwork within these homes which initially would have been passed down throughout subsequent generations as family heirlooms, were sold to the U.S. as the U.S. was the wealthiest nation in the world during the era and had the ability to help once wealthy families avoid complete financial ruin. Most aristocratic dynasties simply gave up with the introduction of these new income tax policies as the cost of maintenance was simply too great for what an estate could reasonably generate

Pablo Picasso’s Politically Charged Guernica Painting


On April 26, 1937, Guernica, Spain was severely bombed due to civil conflict brought on by World War II. The Basque town of Guernica was openly hostile towards General Francisco Franco’s ideologies, and because of this, Franco unleashed a 3.5 hour bombing raid upon this defenseless city, with help from German allies. In total, 1650 people were killed, 900 injured, and most of the township was destroyed, an event which sparked international outrage. Pablo Picasso created a piece of artwork as sentiment towards anti-war and anti-violence entitled “Guernica”. Picasso understood that artwork and politics rarely go together hand in hand and so he created not a piece of aircraft and bombs but rather of horses and swords, as he was determined not to create artwork which could be used as propaganda in the future. The bull depicted within the painting is designed to represent Franco and his military powers and the suffering horses and weeping woman symbolize the people of Spain. Picasso’s Guernica work became a timeless masterpiece and a copy of it is on display at the United Nations world headquarters in New York City, United States of America. The Guernica painting was covered briefly with a veil during 2003 when U.S. General Colin Powell announced the United States’ decision to invade Iraq. The Guernica image was seen as incendiary commentary and therefore intolerable during this chaotic period. The Guernica painting has become a symbol of protest to violence, war, and military regimes, not just for every country in the world, but of the 20th century and beyond

Adolf Hitler’s Perverted View of the Arts 


Adolf Hitler attempted to become a watercolorist painter during his early adult life and attended art school. Hitler dropped out and became a politician but he continued to have a deep fascination and appreciation of artwork and architecture, however he harbored strong disdain for modern art. While imprisoned for attempting to challenge the German socialist political party in power at the time, Hitler wrote a manuscript which served as a blueprint for a new kind of German society, and in this manifesto he characterized modern art as a toxic moral plague upon society, pestilence sent by Russian communists and sold by Jewish art dealers to infect Germany with cubism, and other forms of Bolshevist viewpoints