There is history around us wherever direction we look, and that extends from the seas to the skies and everything in between. One of the earliest forms of art in the world exists in ancient caves and the paintings created by early men thousands of years ago. This is regarded as some of the first works of man and it is intriguing to find out new information about cave paintings as a form of expression. It proves that even in the beginning of time, humans were eager to convey feelings and caves served as a canvas where they could display emotions amongst themselves and future generations.


There are so many genres when it comes to art, and cave painting is one of the first forms that have been discovered by modern day man. Working on a fresh cup of coffee, I found the energy to delve into the history of cave painting, the definition, as well as characteristics attached for a broader view. Cave painting refers to art that can be viewed from walls, ceilings, and floors of rock shelters. Monochrome cave paintings involve only one color, while polychrome cave paintings are comprised of two or more colors. Examples of this type of painting can be seen at Altamira, or in the Chamber of the Bulls. Cave drawing, however, refers to an engraved drawing that is produced by cutting lines on the rock surface using a stone tool, as opposed to using charcoal or manganese to draw lines.


Origins of Cave Paintings

Currently, we have no exact time frame for when the first cave paintings began. One theory connects the evolution of art from the Stone Age to the arrival of modern humans in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic period. This theory coincides with the development of art in caves by the displaced Neanderthal man, around 40,0000 B.C. This was around the time that rock art began to emerge in rock shelters and caves worldwide, especially in the Franco-Cantabrian area. The beginning was paintings, then mobiliary art featuring figurines like the Venus figurines gaining traction and popularity.


In general, cave painting materials and techniques improved with each successive century, bringing forth monochrome paintings from the Aurignacian culture, then on to the Gravettian era, progressing to the Magdalenian era. At the end of the Magdalenian era, the Ice Age finally ended and there came a period where the world encountered global warming which led to the destruction of reindeer, culture, as well as cave art. Cave painting continued to evolve, however, leading to great eras of substantive art.


Famous Cave Paintings



The cave art in France and Spain is among the most famous of the region. In Puente Viesgo, Spain, the Caves of Monte Castillo is home to some of the oldest cave art in the world. Fumane Cave is an Italian cave that was once home to Aurignacian reindeer hunters. Maybe one day, people from all over the world will be able to view these fragments.