Classes are finished and the boys are still in school, so Lisa and I are home watching some documentaries on Netflix. The first on the bill was a National Geographic special on Manchu Picchu and we are just finishing up one on the prehistoric paintings in the Chauvet Cave. Although I don’t care much for the latter documentary as a production (so far), the paintings are amazing. My favorite images are to ones in which the artists are trying to depict movement. In particular, there was a bison with eight legs…
…and a rhino that seems to be shaking its head.
The documentary and the sites where I got these photos likenthese attempts to show motion to moderns film or animation. But in reality, they are far more like comics and modern art (in large part because they don’t actually move). Using multiple images of a limb is a stylistic trick used by many cartoonists. The Flash always makes a for a great example of depicting motion. Here we see the Scarlet Speedster spinning his arm very quickly to blow the bad guys over.
(via John Rozum for Kids, “Menace of the Super Gorilla” – John Broome story, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella art. The Flash #106. May 1959. DC Comics.)
Interstingly enough, 30,000 years after these paintings were made in The Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, another French artist employed a similar approach. Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) shows a multi-limbed human reminiscent of bison in the cave.
I don’t think anyone would liken this to a movie or animation.
No great insights here, I suppose. I just wanted to see these all side-by-side. Looks like the ancients came up with very similar approaches to represent motion in a still image. We had very clever ancestors.