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Interview with Claude Howell, #150 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Claude Howell, #150
In this art history lecture from the Gwen Ward videotape collection, artist Claude Howell (1915 - 1997) discusses the earliest forms of art with an audience assembled at St. John's Museum of Art in Wilmington.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Howell, Claude Interviewer:  Lecture Series Date of Interview:  n.d. Series:  Arts Length  60 minutes


[Please note: the audio quality of the source has degraded over the years, resulting in gaps in the following transcript.]

Claude Howell: The $40 dollars that you all paid is going to a good cause. It's going to-- every cent of it is going to the acquisitions fund and we're going to buy a work of art for the permanent collection and put on the label, "Given by the Art History Class."

(audience expresses delight)

Claude Howell: You all will be donors to the museum. If we keep on going and get enough money we'll buy two pictures, but that's what we intend to do. So this is not just wasted. Tonight we are going to start on a long, long journey. We're going to start around 30000 BC. Now a lot has taken place in these 30000 years, and it's been very different. The only problem that we have is that I went once to see the paintings in Lascaux which were painted around 25000 BC, and I think they are some of the greatest paintings I've ever seen. It was very fascinating to think that for 25000 years we've been painting and haven't made much progress. This is part, I think, of the great tradition in art. It keeps changing, but it doesn't get too much better. Different generations express themselves in a different way, but they all have done pretty much the same thing. We mentioned last week that man has expressed himself in three major ways, the way something looks, like the impressionist paintings, the way it is, which is like cubist painting, or the way you feel about it which would be expressionism. Now, this is Vincent van Gogh. All three of these are equally good, but it just depends on how the artist feels. You, on the other hand, like what appeals to you. So the fact that you like impressionism, you don't like cubism doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you it just means that biologically you're more attuned to one field of work than the other. There is something, though, to be considered by all of us. We have to understand the other several ways of working. We can't say it's no good because it doesn't appeal to us. Well, I find that primitivism does not particularly appeal to me, but some of the great art of the past has been made by prehistoric man. Primitivism is not so much governed by date as it is by a state of mind. Prehistoric man lived in Northern Europe around 20-30-35000 BC up until around 10000. In Australia primitive man lived as late as the 1870s. Now, in contemporary art there are a great many painters who have gone back to the beginning because they feel that art's gotten stale, and they are consciously practicing primitivism. So we find a lot of modern painters painting like children, painting like crazy people, painting like prehistoric man in order to recapture the freshness of vision which those men probably had. We see it in their work. Paleolithic art ends in Europe around 10000, but it ends in Australia around 1870, therefore it's veritable today. The carbon test which scientists have developed has helped greatly in dating. You can't date it by style. It depends on what is going on where at a particular time. In Egypt at around 4000 BC we begin to have the beginnings of one of the great civilizations of all times. In Northern Europe at that same time you have things being built like Stonehenge. Prehistoric man was in control. So it just depends on where you are. I think that art, from its very beginning, has been man trying to take possession of something, making his mark. You've seen children walking down the street with a crayon and they mark on the sidewalk. This is the same thing that prehistoric man did. He was making his mark. You know, we used to say during the Second World War that you saw everywhere, "Kilroy was here." Well, this is what it is. Man wants to prove that he exists, and so we find that he begins by putting his mark on things. Before that time he couldn't-- he didn't even know how to put his mark. So he began to collect things which looked like things. He would collect a stone or a piece of wood that resembled an animal or something like that. I know a lot of people who collect driftwood because it reminds them of certain animals. Every now and then you ride through the country you see a little piece of wood that looks like a deer. This is the same thing that prehistoric man did. The next step is you have a little piece of driftwood that looks like a deer, what do you do? You get a button or a piece of paint and you put an eye on there. You're beginning to enhance on what you find. So this is the beginnings of naturalistic art. We also find that prehistoric man did something else and there are thousands of these in Southwestern France in caves. He puts his hand in wet clay and just goes like this, so that you get these undulating rhythmic lines, and it becomes decorative when he repeats it two or three times. So this is really the beginning of what we call non-objective art. A lot of people object to modern non-objective art. It has been around ever since man has. We have always had non-objective art as well as realistic art. The two have been created simultaneously. Now, prehistoric man would go out and he would see marks where a bear or an animal had scratched on a rock or a piece of wood. He would go in his cave and he would do same thing. We have a lot of examples of that sort of painting in France. Most of the cave paintings are in Central and Southwestern France. They are in innumerable. A lot of them are very famous. Some of them are very obscure. Some of them are extremely difficult to get in. You get claustrophobia because you have to squeeze sideways to get in, and you have to have a flashlight, or a candle, or some sort of light to see where you're going. The water is oozing down. It's very uncomfortable, but when you get in the results are terribly exciting, and you realize that prehistoric man has been here and he's created something. One of the big questions that we ask ourselves today, and has never been answered, how did he get into these places and paint these pictures? Lascaux has, in places, a ceiling that's 30 or 40 feet high and yet the whole ceiling is covered with gigantic figures of animals. How did he get up there? What did he use for light? There's no evidence of smoke or fire or anything like that in these caves. There are a lot of unanswered questions from this period. We really don't know too much. You find that after he reproduces these scratch marks and these lines with his hand on this clay, he will put his hand on the wall and he will paint around it so you have a reverse silhouette. One of the most exciting caves that I've ever been in has all these hands on the wall, just lots of them. One of them you could see where his finger was cut off. One-- it was missing down to the first joint. Then if you look in the clay at the bottom it had been wet when he was standing there doing it and now it's solidified. You can see his feet prints. Well, this gives you quite a feeling because you realize that prehistoric man stood right there, and you see his feet, and you see his hands. Wasn't as tall as we were, but at least he was upright and he was creating. We said last week that creation is one of the basic instincts of man, and this proves it because what I'm told about in these messages cannot be argued very much. These are things that we know. I'm not concerned with who is good, or who is bad, or why, so I'm simply stating the facts as we know them over a period of thousands of years of history. Now you find that abstract or decorative art, which is still in evidence a lot today, begins with patterns made by an axe mark on a bone, or the bear scratchings. These turn into a line design on a prehistoric bowl. The Indians in this country would take these same lines, they would make them zigzag, it would mean lightening. It becomes a symbol for something else. It also is a beautiful design. And if you repeat it all the way around the bowl you get a very beautiful decoration on the bowl. Now we do it on a flat piece of canvas and it's called non-objective or abstract art. That's the only difference. We don't-- we put a frame around it, they didn't. Most of their art was utilitarian. Now, symbolism is another form of art which comes in very, very early art. You have the little Venus, we call them Venus figurines. They are female figures. They're about that big, if that big, not more than three or four inches high, tremendous breasts, an enormous stomach, a tiny little head, almost no feet. They emphasize the reproductive organs. The reason for this is this becomes a symbol for the fertility goddess. In the very beginning there was no difference between religion and magic. Everything religious was magical. Later on when climate sort of modified, the Ice Age was over, prehistoric man moved outside of the cave and he became a farmer. If you become a farmer you are dependent on climate, you're dependant on the weather. So you begin to have the introduction of gods, the god-- the sun god, you had the rain God, you had the wind, you know, the Greeks had a lot of the wind gods. You have all of these things, the god of the harvest. These turned into annual festivals invoking the gods to preserve them and give them plenty to eat. Well, this took thousands and thousands of years to achieve. It didn't happen overnight. When we begin talking tonight we're talking about before the Ice Age, and then you have the Ice Age. That's when prehistoric man moved into the cave. He moved in for shelter, and he moved in to get away from the animals which were everywhere. And it was cold, and he clothed himself in skins. He began to sew these together. So this becomes the beginning of clothing. You find that all of these things are the result of some particular reason. Now, there are quite a few reasons for art besides from the innate necessity to create, which I guess is the most important one of all. Some people ask me, "Why do you paint?" I don't why I paint. I just know I'm kind of unhappy if I'm not, and this is the innate necessity to create. It's the same basic instinct that man always had. It's the same instinct that we have, say, for sex, for shelter and for food. I had to give a talk to the Rotarians one night, and I made them mad. I said there's a difference between man and the animals, and you know what it is? And they said, "Well, they knew they weren't an animal," and I said, "Well, the animal, as well as prehistoric man, had to have shelter. This is one of the basic instincts. The bird has a nest, the lions, they all have dens, but anyway, it's shelter. Man builds a house, a hut perhaps in the beginning. The other basic instinct is a keep the species alive so you have sex, and then you've got to survive so you have food. Now, we have a job to make money to buy food. In the beginning they went out foraging for food." And I said, "Okay, how many of you go beyond those three things?" Very few of them did. I said, "There is a difference between man and the animals. Man can create and he can appreciate, the animals do not." And I said, "All of you businessmen who do not create and do not appreciate are on the level of the animals." (laughter) Well, it sure meant a lot of the Rotarians, but I was serious when I said this. I really think that's a point that we need to consider. We are human beings, we can create, we can appreciate and until we do we have not fulfilled our destiny. This is why I think being an artist is important, and I think the museum is important, and I think they appreciate that art is important for that simple reason. It's so basic that often we overlook it. All right, there are reasons for art. We said the innate necessity to create. All right, there's another one which is adornment. Almost from the very beginning we have found remnants of beads, of amulets, jewelry, trinkets that people put on. The reason they put them on is for physical attraction. You have tattoos. Prehistoric man would paint with mud or clay just lines. You still have the mud men in Papua New Guinea. Now women take red paint and do this at their mouth. The savage of prehistoric man would take red paint and do this, it's exactly the same thing, but in a different place. I went to a wonderful show at the Museum of Natural History in New York one time called from the neck up, and it showed the African native of prehistoric man over here, and the modern American woman. Well, there was a Lilly Dache hat with wonderful little feathers that went up like that. Then they showed an African woman with little feathers coming out of her ass, the same kind of feathers. It made you really stop and think about things. We do the same thing today that people have always done, but often we think we're sophisticated and we think we're at the height of fashion when actually these things have been going on for thousands of years. So tattooing, beads, all of that, is personal adornment which has come to us down through the centuries. Well, there's something else, and I guess the arts and crafts movement comes into this. Art is often utilitarian. We make a boat, we make a boat to hold something or to use, but we also decorate, and this is where the art comes in. When you get to Greece the art is in the beautiful controlled shape of the boat. It's not so much the decoration on the boat as it is the actual shape of the boat itself. Then, and this is important, but it's not the first reason for art, religion and magic. At first we had idols, and we had totems, and we had fetishes. These become in later times, when man becomes more settled, they become gods and goddesses and organized religion. We still have these today, you know, the Virgin Mary, Christ, God, all these are our idols. Other people have other idols, but we've always had certain gods that we worship, and for the very same reason, to take care of us. Now, they are the main reasons for creating. The laws of evolution in art were already in existence in prehistoric times. You have first the need to simplify because you don't have the technical ability to do something the way it looks. So because of this it looks abstract because you can't do it any other way. Then you become, through the years, able to reproduce what you're seeing. So this becomes what the eye can see, and this is relevant. And then you're not satisfied with that. You begin to refine it. When you refine often you become a little more sophisticated, and because of this you start having just a simple illusion to the object. The Indian, for instance, would take the zigzag lines that meant lightening, that's an illusion to it, it's not the appearance. And so art becomes abstract again. And then you repeat these abstractions over, and over, and over for hundreds of years. And what does this become? Academic and deadly. So then you have revolt and you start all over, and this has happened in practically every century from the beginning of man up until today. About ten years ago we had a revolt against non-objective art. So de Kooning reintroduced the figure of the woman into paint. It was not like any woman that anybody had seen before, and it certainly was not the way a woman looked, but he was revolting against the non-objective by putting in an object in his art. Now, it has become almost photographic realism again. So then you take things that are very realistic and you put them next to completely unrelated objects so they don't make sense to anybody except the person who is talking and this is where we've gone today. You have a lot of art where the parts are understandable, but the message is not. It becomes purely personal. The artist has withdrawn into himself again. We don't have any personal styles from the prehistoric period. It was more the tribe or the race that they were concerned with than it was the individual because the individual was not particularly important in prehistoric times. It was not until we get to Greece that man becomes the measure of all things. Even in Egypt which was a very sophisticated civilization you don't have individual styles. In Egypt you do not sign your painting. You have to wait until you get to Greece where the individual becomes important. Therefore you sign your work, when you sign your work, if you're a little better than somebody else, it has more value, people begin to collect it, you have the beginning of a museum, you begin to have art in the market place. That's an avenue that carried it to its extreme in the 1990s, and they have pushed the market way, way up. Why? Not to help the artist, but to make a lot of money. So the money has become far more important now than the art, than the work of art itself. It's very interesting the way these things go back and forth throughout the years. Well, architecture begins when man makes a structure which is a little bit larger than his great utilitarian needs. I don't think you can call architecture a little round hut with a grass roof and poles with straw woven in between. It's a style of building, but it's hardly architecture. You can call Stonehenge a work of architecture. That is tremendous and it took more than one or two people to build it. I think architecture began when people began to have religion, when burial rites became important. You had mass graves in Northern France and you had to mark where those were, so you begin to have various forms of architecture. Now, let's look at a couple of slides of the architecture. Let's see. Oh, thank you. This, by the way, is in the North of France. It is 65 feet high, and it's a little place more like a mariad, and this is a menhir. Now you probably have heard about Carnac and Stonehenge. There are three major types that we want to look at here. A menhir is an upright stone placed to either commemorate some event, some person, or over a burial site. We don't know the reason for this. It is a column. It is a natural rock, but it has been worked on. You can see where they had taken flint or other stones and they've actually shaped the rock. Now, look at the tree, and you can see how long it is. That's that big.

Q1: How do you spell that?

Claude Howell: A menhir? M-e-n-h-i-r. And the definition's very simple. It simply means an upright stone. Now, if you take these menhirs, and they're not quite this large, and you place them in a big circle this becomes a cromlech, c-r-o-m-l-e-c-h. Now this is Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a cromlech. Stonehenge was built in recent times according to what we're talking about tonight. It was built around 1500 BC. Now, remember that Egypt was on its lee times, or in its lee times in 1500 BC. We already had the pyramids and things like that built, but these were built by prehistoric man. Well, that [inaudible] had not gotten to this part of the world yet. Now, the largest is Stonehenge and these stones are tremendous. Some of you, I'm sure, must have seen Stonehenge. They were quarried a long, long way away. They were floated down a river, hauled over land, how we do not know. The stone is different from any stone in that part of England. All right, we have still a third type. These are not built, but it could be called architecture. The third type is a dolmen, d-o-l-m-e-n, and--

Q2: Have you got the...

Claude Howell: Yeah.

Q2: Okay.

Claude Howell: I'm going [inaudible] so we can see it. I thought it. Yes, all right. This is a dolmen. It's one or more upright stones with a horizontal stone on top. These were generally burial types. This one happens to be in France. All three of these are very widespread. They are all over Europe. We have found them in Africa, in Asia and in this country as well. The pre-Columbian Indians also had this type of structure. Look how gigantic this thing is. It weighs tons. Now the problem is; how did they get it up there? We just don't know. Prehistoric man must have had a lot of ingenuity to move such tremendous weights. The statues on Easter Island we don't how they were erected, but it has been suggested that they were cradled. You know what cradled meant? Cradled is when you put something underneath the end of a tremendous weight and you begin to rock it. And you rock this side up and you put a little bit higher weight and you keep on going until this gets up, and up, and up and finally you can push it into a perpendicular way. We think that's how it was done. That's the only possible way that we figured these things out. Prehistoric man probably cradled this up on these stones. Probably he also built a lot of earth around the perpendicular stones at the bottom and maybe either pulled it or rolled it up there to get it on top and then he could dig away. But there's so many questions like this that we just can't answer. This is a view of Stonehenge and it doesn't look so impressive here, but each one of these stones weighs tons. Now I understand that England's terribly upset because it's become such a tourist trap, and they've made all the people who sell trinkets retreat a number of feet from this site. This is the center of a circle. Around the ground, which you see here, there is another row of very small blocks which makes a much, much larger circle. Books and books have been written about Stonehenge. Very few people seem to understand it. We do know that on the night of-- the morning of summer solstice in one direction you can see the sunrise. So a lot of people think that it was some sort of early astronomical calendar. We just don't know about these things. We know very little about the people who built it. We have learned recently that the Druids did not. For years, and years, and years it was thought that it was built by the Druids. This is earlier than the Druids. You can begin to see how large they are. A couple of the horizontal stones are there. Originally they went all the way around, and there is evidence that there was some tampering with these tremendous stones. They had been shaved just a little bit. There is no actual carving, but there is evidence of say, a mark by another stone or an axe, such an axe. Now, we talked about non-objective designs. This is a clay pot, it's from China, but it is prehistoric, and look what a beautiful design it is. What does it look like? Nothing. It's not meant to look like anything. It is non-objective, but you find perfectly beautiful designs like these on many, many very early pots. The color is usually very simple. Earth colors were used primarily. Earth colors do not fade. If you use sienna, which is the color of clay from Italy, it is a reddish brown, it never fades, it never changes. If you put it in a fire and burn it you get a darker red and it becomes called burnt sienna. Ocher we have a lot in North Carolina. It's off a yellow clay, and if you burn it you get a burnt ocher. All of the stuff that you see in early ceramics is made from earth colors because it's durable, it doesn't fade. They didn't have any chemical colors, and we do, but a lot of it are what you call fugitive colors. That is you'll put them on and next year they won't have the same color. They either change, they eat up each other, or they fade. Alizarin crimson is a cannibal color which was introduced probably during the Renaissance. It will eat up anything. It will eat right through to the top of what you paint on top of it. You can't see any change in these early pots. They put it on, it is there, it's there forever. Fortunately for us the designs have helped restorers considerably because if you have a design like this, and there's a broken piece, you know exactly where to put it. So a lot of vases that you see in the big museums have been restored because of these lines. Now we are going to look at a few examples of sculpture. In the beginning man was not concerned with carving objects. When he carved anything it was very, very small. This is a little piece of bone. It's about two or three inches wide. What did prehistoric man know? What was he most familiar with? The animal. So you find that this main subject of his art is the animal. This is a horse's head. You'll notice that two types of sculpture are incorporated here. You know what they are? One is sculpture in the round. That is three dimensional. You can look at it from any side. The other is intalio, i-n-t-a-l-i-o, intalio. This when you cut it out, the eyes, the nostril, the horse's ear, these are cut out. A signet ring is intalio. If you press the signet ring into a piece of sealing wax you get a reverse image and it's raised. This is called bas-relief, b-a-s-relief, so that's the French term for a sculpture. Well, these are just about the only types of sculpture that we've ever had. The Egyptians used all three frequently. Often you'll see three of them used in one large temple. This is very small, but this is intalio and sculpture in the round. Now look how ingenious this is. He had a piece of bone, it was a strange shape. He wanted to carve a bison. What did he do? He turned the head to fit the piece. So you find that nature is beginning to exert its influence on what man is creating. He turned the head. The main thing that he knows is the head of the animal, so there's more detail here than there is in the rest of it. We don't know the reason for these, but a lot of these have been found. If you go to Paris by all means to go out to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and go to the Musée d'Archéologie, it is just fascinating. Room after room after room filled with all the small objects that they have found in the caves in France. And there are probably more there than anywhere else in the world, but there were caves, prehistoric caves, everywhere. Spain has a number, but France is very rich in caves. And a lot of these things that we're looking at are in that museum. Now this is intalio, carved out. This was the wall of a cave. It probably suggested an animal to the artist. He began hacking away with a flint. He didn't have metal that early. And it really is almost like a line drawing, but what is remarkable it has the body. You get the feeling of a rounded figure here, the antlers going up and curved. Prehistoric man knew the animal. He was afraid of the animal. It was his adversary. It was his clothing. It was his food. So he was enemy with the animal, and until the time of Dega, which was in the late 1800s, no one had drawn animals correctly since prehistoric man. Prehistoric man drew animals with all four feet off the ground. In the 16-17-1800s they always put one foot on the ground. Then photography came in and we discovered that prehistoric man was right that they lifted all four feet at once. They were acute observers of their surroundings. Now here we get to part of the great tradition of the importance of roots. Great art has always grown out of what man has known, what he has seen and observed, and what he has he has felt in his own day. All of our prehistoric art is concerned with what he knows. He is completely controlled by the importance of roots, and good art today is still the same way. I think this is a fascinating bison. It's clay, but now it's pretty much stone. It was on the side of a cave, way in the back, and he saw what looked like an animal to him and he simply enhanced it. Then he began to pat a little clay here and there. So it becomes real sculpture, but long before you had people modeling in clay. Always these have the power of the animal. They catch the essence of the animal. They also carved very small heads like this one of a young girl. It's very abstract. You know it's a young girl. Look at the nose. Look at the eyes. Now they aren't there, really. They are suggested. This too is only three or four inches high, but already he's beginning to show a little bit of style in the headdress, in her hair. Now we talked about the female figures, the Venuses. This is one of the female figures, tiny. The breasts are big the stomach is big, look at the feet, they're not even there. Look at the head, completely unimportant. This is woman as a fertility goddess, or a totem of a kind. Here's another one. These are very close to a lot of abstract sculptures from the 1920s and the 1930s, particularly Brancusi and Braque. In fact you could put a piece of sculpture by Brancusi side by side and you couldn't tell who did which one, they're that close. There is some decoration on the figure, but very little. This is a bas-relief. It is attached to background, but it is raised. This is the Venus of Lausell, I think that's it, and she's holding a crescent moon which is a symbol of fertility in her hands. And here again, the head and the feet went away to nothing. This is, I think, I may be wrong, but I think I'm right here, I think it's the only life sized figure that we have from the prehistoric world. It's still in place in Southern France, and it was a shrine. It was not a cave. It was carved on the entrance to a cave, but it actually faced outdoors. There was an overhang here. And this, of course, is the famous Venus of Willendorf. This is about 4 inches high, that's all. She, too, could have been carved anytime during this century. There's very little difference. Her hair is shown, but that's about the only decoration that you find in this little figure. It's-- this is stone, by the way. The other ones that we were looking at were ivory. Now how do we get to painting? Most of the ones that we have, certainly the ones in France, are inside caves, way, way in. This is in Niaux, France. The first cave painting that was discovered was discovered in, I think it was 1876, and it was completely distractive. The scholars and artists always said, "Oh it's a fake, there's nothing to it. They kept finding more and more evidences of paintings. There was a French [inaudible] and in 1901 he conclusively proved that these were authentic. In 1941-42 a little French boy was playing with his dog, and the dog went in a hole in the mountain. And the little boy pulled out enough rock and stuff so he could crawl in. And he had a lantern with him. And the dog had gone way inside. And he followed the dog. And he looked up and on the walls he saw all these animals painted. So he went and told the village priest who was the one cultured person in the town, the little village, that he had gone in this cave and, you know, he had found this. The priest was pretty large and they had to dig a bigger hole for him to get in, but he went in, and he was very excited. He knew enough to realize that something was here. He contacted his friends in Paris. Now, this was in the 1940s. And the experts came and they realized that here was the greatest treasure trove that they had ever seen. This was Lascaux, L-a-s-c-a-u-x. I went there in 1948 and it was very difficult to get there then. Nobody much went, but I was dying to see these things. And we finally, almost, had to give up because we got up there, we finally had to walk, and we got up to where the entrance of the cave was nobody was there. And we yelled and yelled and made a lot of noise. Finally this boy about 18 or 19, I guess, came running up the hill, and he had a lantern. And this was the boy who had found the cave. And he was so excited because someone had come to see his cave. He took us through and in all my life I've never been as excited. It was as though prehistoric man was right there. These things were very bright. They were gigantic. The great cow leaping over the ceiling in the large chamber is over 40 feet long. There are cows, there are bison, there are reindeer. Way, way in the back is one little stick-figure which is man. Prehistoric man was not interested in painting man. He didn't understand anatomy. He didn't understand the way the human figure went. He understood perfectly the way the animal went because he killed the animal, the animal killed him and he was very much aware of it. But when it came to the human being he wasn't very good, and it's a sorry picture, but the others are magnificent. This is what you call a [inaudible], and these are symbols that probably meant something to prehistoric man. They don't mean anything to us today unless we are a scholar. Usually they are lines and dots and dashes. They are nearly always done in this red earth. Prehistoric man only painted in earth colors, which is one of the reasons they lasted. If you look on the ceiling up there you'll see where he scratched some off the back.

Q3: Claude, those are like the aboriginal art in Australia.

Claude Howell: Yes, they're very close. Well, the Baa paintings and the aboriginal drawings are the only prehistoric paintings done in say, the 19th Century, and they probably were very similar to the ones that we've done in France. There were done 25000 years BC because of the carbon test we can date them fairly accurately now. Now, look very carefully. You don't see it at first, and then you begin to see hands surrounded by black paint, hands surrounded by red paint. You see them? They're all over the place. Prehistoric man did not think of this as art. We don't have art for art's sake yet. If he'd paint something it probably had a use. When that use is over he simply paints over his original picture. This is why in Altamira, the cave in Spain, it's taken about 30 years to figure out the animals because they're all painted on top of each other. It like a tremendous puzzle. Here is the painting, but this is not the original. This is a drawing made by the scholar who was trying to unravel where the animals were. They're in all positions. They're cows and bison, but look how powerful they are. Man has never captured animals any better than prehistoric man had. Now, we see one of the actual paintings. There's a slight rise here which has been utilized by the artist to give a slight bulge to the animal. They're very difficult to figure out even when you're looking at them. And when you first go in it's very dark, and it takes a half an hour or so before your eyes can get adjusted to this gloom, and then things just come at you everywhere, in front, behind you, every which way. This is another slide of an actual scene, and you can see that there are other things in here. Here's a bison. This is the back leg of another animal underneath. So there are five or six layers of animals painted in this one cave. He used red ochre. He used sort of a slate gray which comes from clay. He used a soot like from ________. It probably was something like a lamprack. We don't think they had lamps in the beginning, but later on they did. And of course, they did have fire. They could burn wood and get charcoal that way. They mixed all this with animal fat. The color was blown through a tube like bamboo. They didn't have paint brushes. They blew it on. Lascaux, by the way, and I don't know about Altamira, but they say that so many tourists go there now, to Lascaux, that human breath and pollution from people was beginning to destroy these just invaluable paintings. So you can't go any more. It's all closed. I was very lucky. I understand that the French have erected a replica of this cave close by and you can go in there, but that's not like the real thing. This is straight up. All these are tremendous. All these are 20 or 30 feet long, and they are 30 or 40 feet above you. This is in the great chamber. This is the chamber where we had no idea how they got their paintings. You take the subject matter it's almost how what they knew about animals. When we get to North Africa art moves out-of-doors and we'll see lives of some people. These are reindeer. A lot of these animals are extinct today. A lot of them are only found in other parts of the world, that bison, that mammoth, that reindeer there are all kinds of animals that are now in the far north, but at the same time we find ostriches, and we find rhinoceros, things from the tropics. So we don't understand all that. Here we find prehistoric man's idea of man. And you see there's no form, there's no body, it's a silhouette, the head and the neck, there's no anatomy, and this is better than most of them. Most of them are really like stick figures. There is one thing, there is action, there is movement. You always get the feeling of motion. They apparently like to paint these sticks figures of people doing one of two things, either hunting or praying. Nearly always they're one of those two. Now, what is the difference between what we've been looking at and today's art? There is a difference. There is no competition. They do not paint within a square, a rectangle or a circle. They don't put a frame on it. Nothing is related to anything else. They simply paint an animal and then paint another animal on top of it, but you don't find two animals getting ready to fight each other. There's no relation between one object and another. Neither do we find any round. There is no perspective. All these are really floating in space. It takes a long time for man to put his objects in the literal world. Here the object is important, but the space around the object is not. I think that's the main difference. Oh goodness, its time for us to stop. Well, that's good because that's the last slide. (laughs) Now, if you have any questions-- we talked, oh wait, we do have one more. I thought you might like to see these. These are needles and darts. You can see the hole in the little thin one there. That's for sewing skin. This is a shaped implement. Sometimes these become very, very beautiful. Look at the little repetition of little points on this wall right here. That's to go in so it won't come out again. These are weapons. We find that man was beginning to improve his tools constantly. A first he used only flints which he sharpened by hitting it with another one, see. It's a long time before metal was introduced. Then we get to the Bronze Age, and when you do, you begin to have much more exotic jewelry. You begin to have metal jewelry, and a great many things including the hearts of the shape. And the Bronze Age lasted until around 2000 BC. The Egyptians, of course, used metal as early as 4000 BC. I don't understand about Egypt why there were so advanced over the other parts of the world, but apparently they were because they had a high degree of civilization when the rest of the world, the rest of Africa, most of Asia, Europe and this country were still producing things like we have seen tonight. Do you have any questions? Well, next week-- un-huh?

Q4: Well, I'm just curious. I mean, you talked about...

Claude Howell: I'm curious too.

Q4: Primitive man being so observant of the animals and how vital they were and yet does not seem to observe himself.

Claude Howell: Now, I don't think man was important then. I think we have to...

Q4: So it's what they were focusing on.

Claude Howell: Man wasn't even very important in Egypt, the pharaoh was and the gods were, but man wasn't and we don't have any signs of works of art from Egypt. We only know the names of a couple of people who just happened to get their names in the hieroglyphic, but they thought of-- well, let's put it this way, prehistoric man probably thought of the artist as a priest, or someone who had magical powers. If you could paint a picture of an animal you were in control of the animal, so if you went out to hunt you could kill the animal. So the priest or the artist was looked up to. In Egypt things were different. They believed that anything that was menial labor was from the lower classes. The pharaoh didn't lift his finger to do anything. The artist was looked down upon in Egypt as a slave or servant. He had no say, therefore he had no name. I mean, we don't know his name. Egypt came-- Greece came along, he said man is important. If you say that it means that you have a right to think your way and I have a right to think my way. I paint what I want to paint and you paint what you want to paint so we both sign our picture. And that's when you begin to have the artist as an individual which was completely lost during the Christian period because then the artist was of no importance whatsoever, God was the only thing that mattered. So you don't have any signatures from the early Christian or the Byzantine period. So then you have the Renaissance which goes back to the Greek way of thinking, and who do you have? You have Michelangelo and Leonardo, and you can name one after another. Then you get to the Romantic period in the 19th Century and everybody goes off on their own doing their own thing, and you end up with people like Vincent van Gogh, and Toulouse Lautrec, and Gauguin who are really outcasts from society because they've done their own thing to its extreme. Now, the artist, I think, is trying to get back into society, but with not too much success. That is the history of art in a nutshell. All right, next week we will investigate what the Egyptians did, and believe me, they did a lot. And by the way, I think I told you this. I forgot to Xerox your notes for tonight. I will have the notes for tonight next week plus the Egyptian notes, and I would advise all of you to get a notebook because when you get through you will have a two volume history of art.

(audience expresses appreciation)

Claude Howell: It goes on. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages that you'll get. You'll get all this [inaudible] volume. So get a little hole punch and put in numbers.

Q5: [inaudible] first week.

Claude Howell: Yes.

Q5: Oh, good.

Claude Howell: Roberta, do you happen to know where the ones are from last week? We made a few more than we needed.

" I thought that I took the last one myself. I don't think there were any left over. I can bring it in...


"Claude Howell: Well, we can get Pam to Xerox a couple more.

" "" Okay. I'll bring mine in.


""Q6: I'd like one too.

"" """ Pardon?


"""Q6: I'd like one too [inaudible].

""" """" Okay, we can do half a dozen then. Do you want me to bring mine in and have Pam do it in the museum, so they'll be a half a dozen of them?


""""Claude Howell: That would be great. That would be great. And I'll bring tonight's and next week's next Tuesday night.

"""" """" """"

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