Saturday, February 25, 2012


  I'm paraphrasing Herzog's characterization of the public's acid laced exhale, that is dissolving the cave paintings in France. It seems the perfect metaphor for the destructive power of attention that  seems to eat away at all art. Last night I watched Werner Herzog's documentary of the brilliant work discovered recently in a cave that had been sealed shut for 40,000 years. As anyone who has seen this film can attest, the paintings are on the level of any major art work you can think of in the history of art. From the signature red hand prints with the crooked little finger at the cave's entrance, to the epic futurism of animal battles and out of breath horse herds, the scope and scale is awe inspiring.  Put aside the hokey music and Werner's " I wish for a day i don't put a gun to my head" ponderous narration and just focus on the work.  DAMN!
   Seeing these paintings confirmed something that I've long suspected. Art does not evolve. Even though this work sits outside of history, now that a German documentary film maker has brought it to the world's attention, it can no longer remain so. These cave paintings and this painter specifically, should be considered artist one, working in year zero. Aside from the skinny mastodon with the poodle ankles, that looks like a lesser artist picked up the stick, all the line is so effortless and confident it looks like it came from the hand of God. Mona Lisa's smile or Duchamp's Trebuchet (Trap)  has nothing on this.  In fact it is exactly the same thing- not better nor worse. There is no progression. Perspective is more or less a mechanical development than an intrinsically artistic one. Romanticism, modernism, impressionism, conceptualism are all mere blips of definition excellerated by a societal need for brackets. Art, like God, sits outside of evolution. There's no getting better, only trying to access what has always been there. Two months 'til turkey season      


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