Next Seminar

25th January
Prof. Paul Pettitt
University of Durham

“The Aesthetics of Surfaces. New research on hand stencils in French and Spanish cave art from experimentation to observation”

Hand stencils and prints – long assumed to belong to the European Mid Upper Palaeolithic – have been the subject of largely redundant study since the 1960s, with questions rarely addressing issues other than the apparent gender of their producers and why on a number of cases fingers appear to be missing. It is now possible to view them in a completely different light. Beginning with insights derived from experimental replication of stencils I move on to recent observational work on stencils in Spanish and French caves, developing an approach which emphasises their context rather than morphology. Following this and a critique of their chronology, I place a more nuanced view of this ‘art’ form in the context of an emerging picture of the development of Palaeolithic ‘cave art’ in general.