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It may be time to stop using the word Neanderthal as an insult for people we think lack culture, intelligence and any concept of aesthetics.
Or at least that’s what Spanish Neanderthal expert João Zilhão would argue. He’s just published a paper in Science
The work suggests stereotyping Neanderthals as “dumb” may be incorrect, Zilhão says. “From what we know of Neanderthals, there’s no reason to think they didn’t have the capacity” to be creative artists.
Zilhão and his colleagues used an interesting method (more on that later) to date the cave art to between 35,600 and 40,800 years ago… a time when both Neanderthals and early humans likely coexisted in Europe. (They also dated some 47 other cave paintings, whose younger ages finger humans as the artists.)
This is not the first time Zilhão has found evidence suggesting Neanderthals in Europe were neither cognitively inferior nor less creative than their Homosapien contemporaries in Africa. Continue reading →
I spent most of today learning about what museum scientists and conservators are doing to keep contemporary art in tip-top shape. (This whole week I’m at ICOM-CC, the huge art conservation science conference currently taking place in Lisbon.)
These folks who are developing life-extension treatments for some pretty quirky art and artifacts. I’m talking about gigantic chandeliers made from hundreds of illuminated plastic bags suspended from the ceiling, each bag containing a little electronic toy dog that barks and moves its legs. Gotta love it.
Or they’re working on sculptures made from random objects covered in aluminum paint that are now degrading beneath the metal veneer. Or Nazi typewriters found at bombed Gestapo headquarters. Continue reading →
Last Thursday September 1, Germany’s biggest art forgery case in recent history hit the courts.
Four people stand accused of making €16 million from 14 forgeries sold around the world as paintings by 20th century artists such as Max Ernst and Max Pechstein.
One of the defendants is the granddaughter of a Germany business tycoon by the name of Werner Jäger. He died in 1992, and by 2001 the foursome is accused of selling the fakes, apparently claiming they came from Jäger’s extensive art collection. One of the defendants is accused of painting the forgeries.
Every court case has at least one quirky fact up its sleeve, and here it’s that the actor Steve Martin bought one of the fakes (although he sold it again in 2006).
Continue reading →