Never Mind the Ice Floes-Ice Age Carvings at British Museum

I realize this has nothing to do with Mexican or US border art, but I am fascinated by a show of ice age art which just opened at the British Museum. These works,  mostly carvings in ivory, range in age from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago, and I find myself lost in a meditation just thinking about that and the people who were living and working at that time.
The Museum website features a somewhat frustrating video, among other good information about the work. The video frustrates because it seems to focus more on people talking about the exhibit than the works themselves which are displayed fleetingly, like a striptease artist with a case of shyness. The Museum also wants desperately to make the point that these works mark the start of the “contemporary mind” and also shows works by what it sees as relevant 20th century artists like Picasso to make its point. Of course, we know nothing about these people or what they really thought and one wonders if they had discussions like “If you want to really bring out the flavor of that bison, you want to use mesquite wood, and cook it slowly, or “It’s your turn to do the dishes!” One asks oneself if artists said things like “I let the material tell me what it wants to be” or if there were art critics who said “This carving shows a plasticity unusual for works of this kind.” I somehow doubt it, but regardless the exhibition which has drawn works from all over Europe seems a stupendous opportunity to see what people did while waiting for the cave to thaw out.-david sokolec


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