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The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of…

The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists (2006)

by Gregory Curtis

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
3.5 stars - I have mixed feelings about this book; this is mainly because I bought it online, so I didn't get to look at it first and it is quite different from what I wanted it to be.

Gregory Curtis is no prehistorian or archeologist, but, if the extensive bibliography is anything to go by, he did a lot of research and was mentored by an expert. He mainly talks about the discoveries of the well-known caves in Spain and France, from the late 1800s to the present day. The book is quite short, but gives a few interesting insights and has provided me with lots of pointers as to what I want to read more about.

What lets this book down is the lack of illustration; the author only includes a handful of pictures and imo, a book about cave paintings should be full of photos of the caves and the paintings. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
Superior opening essay on the descent of man from Africa to small family groupings in Western Europe.
Max Raphael: [paraphrased] “The paintings are the evidence of the moment when people began to conceive of themselves as different from animals: The very moment when we became human.” Stated elsewhere: “The moment when people started dominating animals and stopped being dominated by them.”
The paintings were produced for so many thousands of years that the artistic skills had to have been taught, generation to generation.
  Mark-S | Jan 18, 2015 |
This very easy-to-read nonfiction tells the story of the discovery of the prehistoric caves in southern France around the turn of the last century and the people who studied and wrote about them for the last 100 years.

There are lots of topics that I think sound interesting, but the books I pick up about them aren't always as interesting as their subjects. This one isn't like that. The author, as near as I can tell, is not an archaeologist so he did not fall into the trap of trying to explain every technical detail that a scientist would have spent years learning and understanding. Instead, he simply tells the reader what he learned when he talked to the archaeologists who study these caves. So, the different theories about why the paintings were made and what they mean are presented in clear, non-technical language. Even though most of the caves are not open to the public, he was able to gain access to many of them and describes what he saw in terms of awe and wonderment, not clinical analysis. I wish we could all see the paintings for ourselves - they sound amazing. He also talks quite a lot about the different people who studied the caves and formulated theories about the people who lived and worked there in the far distant past. He even includes some of the "juicy" details about the academic squabbles between the experts. I always get a cheap thrill from accounts of smart people behaving badly - so this pleased me. ;-) There are lots of photos - many in color. ( )
3 vote sjmccreary | May 11, 2010 |
Gregory Curtis is obviously passionate about his subject. He explores the lives of those who found, explored and studied the Neolithic Cave Paintings found in France and Spain. He takes us from the first discovery and the differing opinions of various archaeologists, art historians and amateurs as they try to understand why this culture flourished for 20,000 years. Drawings, photographs and coloured plates show us some of the paintings but as he says himself nothing can possibly recreate the feelings of actually seeing these in situ. We meet many interesting characters along the way but at the end all we have are various theories. No one will ever know just why these images exist but this is a small taste of why people are fascinated by them. ( )
6 vote calm | Jan 28, 2010 |
Your Non-typical Underground Artist(s) get their due ...

Yesterday (Saturday, Oct. 31) I finished a book by Gregory Curtis, that I enjoyed very much and highly recommend, The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists.

Five stars, without a doubt, for the author's ability to balance academic/scientific conflict and at the same time include all, or most, of the various viewpoints and theories surrounding the cave paintings and the scope of their impact on the worlds of Art and Pre-History. He engenders, as well, a sense of anticipation (while reading the text chapter by chapter) that brings to the discoveries of the caves and the art within them a sense of both magic and mystery.

Like Non-fiction, Art, History, mild adventure and suspense? The plates of the art are good and deserve contemplation on thier own.Then consider reading this wonderful book. ( )
5 vote womansheart | Nov 1, 2009 |
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For Vivian Curtis and for Vivian Curtis, my mother and my daughter.
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This book began in 1995 when my daughter Vivian saw a statue she called "a naked cave man".
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Looks at the cave paintings of Spain and France, examining the origins of these artworks and their creators, Cro-Magnon people who settled there centuries ago, and discusses the theories concerning the meaning of the paintings.

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