Learning from Lascaux – what’s so special about animal artwork?

Animal and bird artwork might be linked to man’s primal need more than any other genre. The cave paintings at Lascaux, in the Dordogne of France, are some of the earliest (circa-15,000 B.C.) depictions of animals inside a home: primitive wall decor. Noticeably absent among the 2000 images are any representations of landscape or vegetation.

It seems ancient man needed to stay connected to faunae over florae. While the need to have food, clothing and shelter is apparent for our world and ancient mankind, the need to stay linked to animals, using artwork also seems vital. Are the folks who purchase animal and bird art today more in touch with their caveman side?

Does it mean civilization is programmed to celebrate animals, but the environment, not so much? Or, as man moved out of cave-shelters into urban centers, learned how to domesticate animals and readily kill any that were a threat, the need to depict the animal kingdom tapered? Gallery Direct has a massive selection of artwork celebrating fauna and flora. The categories are popular; but in the end, we sell much more landscape and botanical artwork than animal and bird prints.

We live in one of the “greenest” cities in America: Austin, TX, which also happens to be one of the most “pet friendly” cities on the planet. We talk a lot about respecting the environment, right before we get into our automobiles and drive to Whole Foods. What would the inhabitants of ancient Lascaux think of that?

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