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In the traditional narrative of American art history, which values massive abstract paintings by white, male artists above almost anything else, Jackson Pollock is heralded as a pioneer, credited with revolutionizing the medium by splashing and dripping liquid pigments onto his canvases in what is vaguely known as “allover painting.” In reality, Pollock may have been late to the game — 60,000 years late, to be exact. A new study has confirmed that Neanderthals were splotching paint on rock surfaces long before Clement Greenberg could say, “that’s genius, bro.”
An international team led by Francesco D’Errico, an archaeologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, found that the red ochre pigment on the stalagmites of the Ardales cave in Málaga, Spain, was applied by our very own extinct human relatives, likely using blowing and splattering techniques.
“Some red markings are intense and continuous. They may have been applied with a handful of a dense ochre paint,” D’Errico told Hyperallergic. “In others you see that a densely colored area is surrounded by fading droplets. This happens experimentally when you chew the ochre, mix it with saliva, and spit it on a wall.”
The claim that Neanderthals authored the markings is not new, first presented in a 2018 paper, but it was contested by some scientists who thought the cave may have been naturally pigmented. D’Errico and his team took geological samples and found that the texture of the pigments did not match those of the rest of the cave.
“We confirm that the paintings are not the result of natural processes and show that the composition of the paint is consistent with the artistic activity being recurrent,” says the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States.
The findings are especially significant because they challenge previously accepted timelines of early art, which cite the rock paintings of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave, dating back over 30,000 years, as among the first ever made.
The markings found in Ardales are far from the intricate figurative designs made by prehistoric modern humans, however — the authors note that the pigments should not be thought of as “art” necessarily, but rather “the result of graphic behaviors intent on perpetuating the symbolic significance of a space.” Sounds like Abstract Expressionism!
Editor’s Note: This endorsement is part of a special edition that Hyperallergic published on the ongoing legal case to return the photos of Renty and Delia Taylor to their descendants. * * * Your Honour — On April 11, 2018, The New York Times published a report on the differential outcomes for maternal and infant…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…