Volume 1, 2008
Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts
José Fernández Quintano
Philosophy of Paleolithic Art
The Paleolithic art interpretation is still a polemical subject. Nearly 300 caves covered with Paleolithic paintings have been discovered and more than 90% are located in Spain and in France. Surprisingly, more than half the painted illustrations are abstract patterns such as dots and lines. The high realism of naturalist figures also stands out. We will present the four groups of theories that have been formulated since the end of the XIXth century in order to interpret the Paleolithic art: the artistic theory from Lartet and Piette; the magical hunting theory from anthropologists such as Tylor and Frazer and archeologists like Breuil; the structuralist theory from Raphael, Leroi- Gourhan and Laming-Emperaire; and lastly the shamanist theory from Lewis-Williams and Clottes. We will also refer to the agglutinative theory gathering all of these from Ucko and Rosefeld. Afterwards I will offer my own thought. Paleolithic paintings are the expression the life led by every generation of the clan. The panels or the set of animals as much as the painted signs are their own History collection.