ARTH 114, fall 2015

Please respond to any or all of the following questions:

What is art?

Why would prehistoric humans make art?

Why would prehistoric humans decorate an object? Is there an object illustrated in Janson that can support your argument?

47 thoughts on “ARTH 114, fall 2015

  1. Cara Dudley

    To me, art is the expression of the imagination. It can be anything it wants to. Art can be anything from a painting to a poem if that’s how someone wants to express themselves. I like to think it’s a way for someone to show another side of them when they have trouble revealing that side. When someone can’t put their thoughts into words, that’s where art steps in.

    I think prehistoric humans would make art because a language may have not existed then. Or at least a single common language may have not quite existed then yet. However, everyone understands pictures or drawings. If a group of prehistoric humans was nomadic, then when they would stay in caves or explore them they would find the pictures which could show perhaps what animals were around that area. The pictures could even depict possible religious beliefs or what group of people was there before another. The art could be information from the last group of people.

    I think prehistoric humans would decorate an object to either express themselves, their beliefs, or perhaps to pass on information. They would paint cave walls to maybe show what animals were found around the area or to depict an event that might’ve happened in that area. Looking at Rhinoceros, Wounded Man, and Bison the picture could be showing an event that took place there. The man has a bird-headed stick so he could be some sort of shaman and a religious gathering could’ve taken place. There’s also the sculpture of a hybrid figure with a human body and feline head. This could be depicting someone and what they believed to be their spirit animal. It could also be a religious artifact. One last example could be the figures found at grave sites. The skulls they’ve found reconstructed to perhaps represent a loved one now gone or the two pottery figures of a male and female found in a tomb that may represent mourners of the people now gone. Again, there could be many reasons why prehistoric humans decorated objects, from telling stories to passing on information. It was a way to express what possibly could’ve been their culture.

    1. Zachary Norrbom

      I agree that art is the expression of the imagination. I personally believe that almost anything has the ability to be art, but I believe that it is the purpose behind the expression that is most important. I think that everything is created with a reason, which qualifies prehistoric cave paintings to be art.
      I think it is interesting that even today we use pictures (ex. road signs) for information, which shows how effective paintings have been at helping communication since prehistoric times. This goes along with your idea of using art as a universal mode of communication!
      I think that you have great insights about prehistoric culture. I agree that cave paintings may have served record-keeping or educational purposes for prehistoric cultures. Paintings could depict events such as battles, hunting expeditions, and more, so that the painter’s offspring/community members could learn and remember easily. For example, the painting Wounded Man seems to depict a hunting expedition gone wrong, which would teach the community an important lesson such as safety. All in all I enjoyed your ideas and I agree!

    2. Mona

      Being in Art History for about a month now has really changed my view on art. I feel like I didnt have much of an appreciation for it. Looking back at pictures and the history of art really changed my outlook on art. A little cave painting, stone or even huge pyramid all tells a story or tells people something we never would have known about a culture otherwise. We are using art for information about people so long ago which is so interesting. Art doesnt have one specific meaning and its not just defined as a painting. Art can be defined as anything made that expresses an individual’s creativity. It can come in many different shapes and forms. It can come in paintings, music, sculptures, etc.

  2. Taylor Norquist

    Art is defined as the expression of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form. Art is a way for people to produce their work and have it appreciated by others around. When I think of art I think of people sculpting or drawing their emotions down on a canvas or clay.

  3. Trevor Kane

    Art can be defined as anything made by man that expresses that individual’s creativity. Art can take the shape of many forms, such as painting, sculpting, literature, music and more. Many factors influence an artist’s creations, such as their own feelings, desires, experiences. The beautiful thing about art is the fact that it can be interpreted a little differently by everyone, and that there is no right or wrong way to look at it. Many people make art as a way to express their feelings and emotions in the most creative way they can. Artists love being able to create something they can show to an audience that displays their skill and that they can call their own creation. In many ways, artists also make art to express the world around them.

  4. Rachel Lynch

    I think art is an expression of someone’s creativity or skill, shown through many different mediums. In class the first day you said that it is something made, but I think that in order for it to be considered art, in addition to it being made it needs to have passion put into it.
    I think that prehistoric humans would make art because they have the natural yearn to channel their creativity. I think that all humans naturally create art through their passions, and for some prehistoric humans they created artifacts that so far have stood the test of time

  5. Olivia Price

    Prehistoric people would make art for a variety of reasons, one of which might be luck in hunting or abundant food. This idea of trying to bring success is suggested by animal paintings such as bison on cave walls. Another reason for art could be fertility. Along with a growing population of prey animals, the Paleolithic people most likely wanted to strengthen their own numbers, as shown by the femininity of the “Woman of Willendorf.”

    1. Jim Bramnick

      I believe art is just another modicum of communication. People use art to express both their thoughts and feelings and ways to express a thought to someone else. While we normally use our vocal chords to make specific sounds that form the words of a chosen language to communicate things in daily life, artists use visual media to express thoughts and feelings to other people. Art is also universal. For example, a beautiful peace of art can convey the same message to somebody in america as somebody in the middle east.

  6. Jessica Schmitt

    Art is the outward expression of a person’s imagination, personal experience, or an internal and/or external influence. It can be seen through paintings, sculpture, or written word and can be heard through music, videos, and spoken word.

  7. Kayla Frye

    I believe that art is expression of a person creativity and imagination. It can take an infinite amount of forms like music, painting, writing, even cooking. It can be a way for a person to express how the feel about their culture, everyday lives, and the things around them. Art is versatile. It can have different meanings to different people with different experiences. It has no right or wrong, its only what you interpret it to be. Art is passionate and it evokes a variety of emotions. For some it’s therapeutic and for others, its a way express their perspective of the world around them.

  8. Alicia Sadler

    Art cannot simply be defined as a painting or sculpture. Art is a broad form of expression that involves skill and creativity whilst invoking questions. What is the purpose of the work of art? What is its’ function? Does it represent a particular culture? Art has the ability to have a different interpretation to every individual.

    During the Paleolithic Age, prehistoric humans may not have been able to communicate efficiently. Even today, scholars cannot pinpoint when the development of language occurred. Art may have been the best form of expression because language was not necessary.

    There are numerous beliefs concerning why prehistoric humans would have decorated objects. For one, there is an evident neurological mutation that occurred around 40,000 years ago-around the same time that the earliest surviving art can be dated from. Some believe that Paleolithic art carried a ritual or religious purpose. For example, the “Spotted Horses and Human Hands” image on the Pech-Merle Cave walls in Dordogne, France (ca. 16,000-15,000 BCE) indicates markings resembling spears being thrown at the image. The magico-religious interpretation suggests that prehistoric humans may have felt that, by creating the images, they exerted control over the animals. Other scholars believe that Paleolithic art was made to tell a narrative. Personally, I believe that prehistoric humans wanted to leave their mark and let others know that they existed. No matter the extent to which humans have evolved, I think it has been an important aspect of history that everyone wants to be remembered.

  9. Jaclyn Marcone

    I think art is something that a person or group of people make. To me, people can have a thought or image in their mind that they bring to life through art. People can showcase and portray their emotions through various forms of art. I think prehistoric people made art in order to leave something behind of their people and culture to ensure that they are not forgotten. They could of also been trying to leave a message behind through their various forms of art.

  10. Emily Jewell

    Art is a word that can be defined many ways. It can be different mediums such as paintings, architecture , music, literature, pictures, and videos to name a few. Art, in any medium, can be used to express the artist’s’ emotions, opinions, or culture during that time. Also, it is open to interpretation so there is no right or wrong way to look at it. For example, I can crochet a scarf and call it art because I designed it; however, someone else might not like it or consider it art. Overall, art can have many different meanings.

  11. Keri Stone

    The primary reason I think people make art is to show an idea, story, or knowledge to others in a way that is more easily, or more deeply, understood and can continue doing so long after the artist is gone. The same basically applies for prehistoric humans, who also had stories and ideas that could be better understood and more lasting through images rather than being passed on orally. But I also think prehistoric humans were more focused on the idea of passing on information (such as different types of animals tracks) then artists today, who don’t need to worry about preserving knowledge as much, what with the creation of books/the written language.

  12. Laura Bufano

    Question: Why would prehistoric humans make art?
    I think that prehistoric humans made art for many reasons. One reason is that it could have been their way of recording moments. For example, a cave painting could be like a diary or a summary of what happened that day. Another reason for making art is that it could have been their way of communicating, if they had a language barrier. One more reason is because they wanted to express how they were feeling.

  13. Rona

    I think art is a manifestation of what we encounter in our world, and we can either make it literally as we interact with it or use our imaginations to make it abstract. In this way no matter what or why the art is created I feel it is a diary of things that have happened or what will happen.
    Prehistoric humans could have made art because they were bored or finished with their day and wanted to reminisce or they wanted to convey something interesting to a friend or they just wanted to make their surroundings less bland.
    The prehistoric humans could have decorated pieces to create a recording device for the rest of the group. An example of this is the “Les Trois Fréres” the animals being stacked onto of one another could have been a record of a successful hunt or a time when the animals perished randomly.

  14. Maureen Sullivan

    I believe that art is the most powerful form of expression. Art can come from everything and anything. It has no boundaries and differs from person to person. For example, when several people are looking at one painting, multiple ideas are discussed because each person has a unique way of looking at things. There is art in the world around us and in what we create, which we often express through paintings, sculptures, and our words.


    Art means something different to every single person on earth, it is because we got different perspectives. Nobody can really pin down to what we have in front of our eyes when it becomes to art. Your opinion on art cannot be right or wrong because it is interpreted different from everyone. Art depends on how every viewer sees it. For me, it is your own way of expressing emotions, feelings and ideas, you can be yourself when doing art. Prehistoric people would make art for people to see in the future. Prehistoric people probably wanted to show their skills while showing their culture and beliefs. Also I think to be successful in their time and show us information from the past. Prehistoric people would decorate an object to show us their feelings, there is a sculpture of a figure with a human body and animal head so they were probably expressing that they believed in their spirit animal.

  16. Rebekah Funkhouser

    Art can be anything. In my Social Issues course the class discussed an occurrence where Banksy’s art was being sold in New York City as street art for very low prices. Recently, a three piece artwork of Banksy’s sold for 300,000. However, the people on the streets walking by did not bother to purchase the art because they thought it was just street art. Which is very interesting to me because it shows how humans will like art work more if it is done by a famous person. However art is art and anything made can be art.
    Prehistoric humans could have been making art for a variety of reasons which can be frustrating because scientist cannot always pinpoint what they were really for. I think they used it to tell stories, religious purpose, to teach lessons, to demonstrate how to hit a target. In our society today we see art everywhere and I assume in prehistoric times they would have maximized their tools and essentials.
    I think the Hall of Bulls was used to illustrate the different sizes, types and migrating seasons. It could have also been for spirits and telling tales. The Hall of Bulls is very decorative, abstract and breathtaking.

  17. Ellen Field

    Art is anything and everything that creates feelings or ideas in the people that see it. Art is everlasting and withstands the test of time because all throughout history people have been making and discussing art from prehistoric to modern day. Art is the one thing we can never lose because it surrounds us, influences us and supports us.
    Prehistoric humans would make art in order to communicate with each other since they did not have a written language. Prehistoric humans may have used art to tell stories of the fantastic beasts and creatures that roam in the wilds outside their caves. They may have made art for any religious/spiritual ceremonies they may have practiced. Prehistoric humans may have made art for the same reason we do, to express ourselves in ways that words can’t.
    Prehistoric humans may have decorated an object to mark as their own. So for example in Janson the Spear Thrower with Interlocking ibexes on page 8 picture 1.11 may have been a way to mark someone’s personal spear from other people’s. So when the group went hunting, the person who marked their object would be able to find the object faster.

  18. Jacob Schroth

    Art is harmony. It is a large part of everyday life that most of us fail to stop and think about. Art takes a skill at a specific topic, typically a skill that was acquired through continuous practice. It is not pleasure, but a means of union and connection among humans.
    “Art is not a thing, it is a way.”-Elber Hubbard.

  19. Sarah Law

    Art is something created in order to express and provoke the emotions or ideas of an artist and/or of those viewing it. Although not all art in our modern day era has a functional or practical purpose like a lot of prehistoric humans art did, one thing that hasn’t changed is the desire to record our history within our art. This is to leave a trace of ourselves to learn about for those who live after we are deceased. I believe that this is why prehistoric humans art was created. So that even after they left an area those following would know of those who lived there, and even after the death of that generation the future generations would have an insight of their lives.

  20. Victoria Coleman

    Art is an expression of one’s thoughts and emotions. It is a way for someone to communicate what they are feeling without any verbal assistance. The word “art” can encompass a broad spectrum of things such as dance, theater, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and music.
    Prehistoric people made cave paintings to help warn people of dangerous animals or to let others know the movement of certain herds through the area. The cave paintings could also be just paintings and drawings that the prehistoric people drew because they wanted to leave a mark–just like how people nowadays want to be able to leave a mark on the world before they pass on. The prehistoric people probably had the same thoughts in wanting to leave a piece of themselves behind in the caves they passed through while following herds.

  21. Aidan O'Connor

    I believe art is the way humans can manifest an idea that is “beyond themselves” for lack of a better term. An artist can create a work that displays such complex emotions or thoughts that would be near impossible for a person to explain. Also, art can be an actual physical release for some, in the manner that even just putting something on paper or into a painting can make someone feel better and lift a weight from themselves. I see it as a way to share experiences, ideas and emotions without the need for words.

  22. Peyton Murray

    Art is a personal form of expression. Art can be interpreted differently by each observer that it crosses paths with. It can evoke emotions and/or make someone question the composition altogether. I believe prehistoric humans made art as a means of communication and to portray their culture and way of life to those that come after them. I think they used art to share their world and their beliefs.

  23. Ashley Robinett

    Art is defined as an expression through creative skill applied to any medium, which has the purpose of appreciation and occasionally, practicality as well. However, I personally believe that there is no clear-cut definition. Sculpture, paintings, drawings, plays, poetry, literature, jewelry, and clothing all fall into the category of ‘art’. I believe that any object created or constructed by humans can qualify as a work of art as long as that is the intention of the creator.
    Prehistoric humans might create art for religious, superstitious or ritual reasons, or possibly to serve as a narrative during a time period before complex language. It is also possible that art was created as a form or exchange or maybe gift-giving. These prehistoric humans might decorate an object as a symbol of reverence to what the object represents, or in hope of bringing about good fortune.

  24. Jen Schubin

    To me, art means so many things. Art is an expression of one’s feelings. This expression could happen through mediums such as Paintings, Song, Sculpture, Drawing, Building, and Writing. Art is beauty; something that stands out from the rest of the world. This creations make one think of new and exciting ideas. I have been all around the world and seen how other people express themselves. I believe Art is a Universal language that everyone can related to.

  25. Alex Patzman

    I think that today most people consider art to be a created work that expresses human creativity, imagination, and emotion. I also think that art is used to say something about human existence, such as culture, beliefs, and experiences of human life. When I think of art, I think of paintings, pottery, and even literature because all of these things can express something about human existence. I think that prehistoric humans used art in this way, to record their lifestyles and cultures just as art can be used today.

  26. Christine Pace

    Art is a form so expression. It allows one to use imagination and feelings to create art. It can also be a way of communication and a recording of past events that does not require speech.

    Prehistoric humans would use art to “tell” their children stories and describe animals from the different areas they have been to, and of what is to occur to their children later on in life. They could use art to signal what animals are around form when later generations or other people come into that area.

    Prehistoric humans would decorated objects to describe events and communicate with others. Figures that were carved could be for practical use like the spear thrower and the design has personal meaning to the owner. The overlapping animal engravings could depict a migration that happens at a specific time of year. There are endless possibilities to why prehistoric humans would decorate objects, and we can only speculate.

  27. Andrew Maccini

    Art is an expression of what the the artist or person viewing it perceives it as. This perception could be positive, negative, thought inducing, or something you glace at once and put it behind you. It could be a piece of history, such as architecture, or any kind of creative product, music, drawings, writings, animation. Art is creative thinking that takes the form of various products: Paintings, sculptures, architecture, etc..

  28. Caroline Petro

    I believe that art can have so many different meanings to it. It can tell stories, it can evoke emotions, it can unify people. Specifically in prehistoric times, I think it was used more on a communicative, and sacred level. We have these early humans who are illustrating their experiences and beliefs and doing it in a way that truly resonates what these people felt at the time and what was important to them.
    Jumping back to more modern times, I believe that is something else that art represents- importance. It could be importance in a specific object; it could be importance in a practice or belief. When an artist is creating a piece of work, they are obviously doing it for a specific reason. It doesn’t have to be something incredibly profound, but rather something that is inspiring them or speaking to them in that specific moment. It could be a painting of the last supper, or it could be a print of a can of campbell’s soup. Regardless of whatever that work may be, it holds an important meaning to them somewhere inside of them no matter how large or small it may be.
    To me, it is not so much the actual artwork that is produced which makes it so beautiful and interesting, but the reasoning behind producing it.

  29. Sydney Andrews

    Art, to me, is anything that creates passion, feeling, and emotion. Art is hair and makeup, art is dance, art is paintings and sculptures, art is poetry, art is songs, art is even creating the perfect home decorations for Christmas time. Art has no boundaries, there are no rules or guidelines that define what art is and what art isn’t. Art is expression of feelings and emotions but it is also, as we have seen, buildings and houses and survival.

    1. Maureen Sullivan

      I like your idea of art and how it creates passion. I strongly agree with that. I also like your examples of art, for example makeup and hair. I think this is often overlooked but such an appropriate instance of art, especially in this day and age when that is such a highlighted topic in our every day lives.

  30. Max Taylor

    1.) Art is a work of creative expression.
    2.) To pass the time and to hone crafting skills.
    3.) To give it a certain meaning/symbolism. Woman of Willendorf.

  31. Lauren Rainford

    I consider art a form of self expression. It is a way in which the artist can externalize something that would have otherwise remained internal. Some artists do it for themselves while others create art for an audience. Similar to the pieces we have talked about in class, it is of my opinion that prehistoric artists created art as a way of talking to nature. Whether they were commending the gods or performing a ritual dedicated to well being and plentiful food sources, their art is focused on an audience that appears to be above them. For example, “Woman from Brassempouy” is decorated to represent femininity. This could have been a blessing for fertility or could have been a gift for the gods. It is also entirely possible that this object was used as a doll for children or pregnant mothers.
    Art is enticing because its genuine purpose is generally unknown to everyone but the designer. We can spend the rest of our lives researching “why” but as a historian, the more important question to me would appear to be the significance behind the fact that they made it at all.

  32. Colton Hall

    I believe art is a form of self-expression that changes with each person. Whether that involves music, painting, sculpting, architecture, etc. it changes with each generation and affects the way history may turn out.

  33. Andrew Robinson

    What is art?

    Art really can be whatever you want it to be. It can be used to express oneself, document history, or even decoration. Throughout history it has been used in almost every possible way. I believe that since there are so many different ways to interpret art, it is what you make it. There is no correct definition of what art is.

  34. cheyenne

    Art is a reflection of our daily encounters, an expression of what we think and feel, ways of portraying what’s imagination and what is reality.

  35. Miranda Lovett

    Art is how we express what is around us. Human take in information differently, and therefore what we put back out is different and unique. This is why it is hard to judge what is good art vs bad art; it is all completely relative.

  36. Martin Gomez

    Art is mankind’s efforts to capture and express both our experiences with the outside world as well as the experiences that occur within each of us. Unlike language which has barriers to understanding between languages, art is universal. People from two completely different cultures can both appreciate a piece of art and derive some sort of message from it.

    Before we had written languages, we used art to communicate, and it has remained in use because it can share more between people than words ever could. It allowed early humans of different generations to pass down stories or knowledge that they thought would benefit their descendants long after they had passed.

    Art also allowed early humans to begin individualizing themselves. By decorating objects like the spear thrower with interlocking Ibexes in Jansen, they could possess something that was unique to them in both meaning and appearance.

  37. Erica Parker

    To me, art is a simple expression of yourself. It does not always have to be in a museum or book. The way someone does their hair can be an art. How we choose to put on our clothes everyday is a form of our own individual art. The individual pieces of clothing are someone else s form of art. Art can express a persons pain or a persons happiness. Art has no boundaries, and is something everyone is capable of making.

  38. Olivia Gallagher

    Art is an expression of yourself and document events in history. Ancient humans used art to document the hunting and season cycles. Also, ancient humans made objects to decorate objects for worship. The Woman of Willendorf found in Austria in ancient times was decorated to symbolize fertility.

  39. Kait Luncher

    1. Art is defined as a the expression of oneself using their creative skill and imagination to create stories by using paintings, sculptures or other visual forms. It isn’t really something that can be defined because art is whatever you want it to be.

    2. Prehistoric humans would use art as form of communication or a way to keep records of animals seen or tasks they did in order to survive, such a hunting.

  40. Olivia Sanderson

    In my opinion, art is a relative term that can mean different things to different people. In a sense, art is everything. There are so many different forms of media alone, not even mentioning physical art such as theatre and dance. Art is the absolute expression of one’s self, and in my opinion, a work of art is a piece of one’s soul come to life.
    Prehistoric peoples created art for the same reason we did- to leave a mark on history, and as a mode of expression. Though we now see their work as rudimentary forms of art, it was revolutionary at the time. The sculptural works and paintings were almost beyond their time, especially considering their lack of carving or sculpting tools and paints. They used pigments and stones to create monumental works that artists today would even struggle to try to complete.
    Prehistoric peoples would decorate objects to use for either religious or cultural means, such as the Women of Willendorf, which represented fertility of a woman. Though this does not have much decoration in the form of color or ornations, it does have decoration in the sense that the sculpture added extra aspects that reflected womanhood, such as the enlarged breasts and exaggerated genitals. Some other examples of prehistoric art that display decoration would be the cave paintings, particularly in the Lascaux caves. The use of color correlates extraordinary well with the movement of the animals to create a sense that the object is in motion.

  41. JaiLaygne

    Art is the creativity of imagination that people use to express themselves. Prehistoric humans would make art so that when they die people would remember them and also so that people could see how prehistoric humans lived. Prehistoric humans would decorate and object to express themselves and maybe to worship.

  42. Rachel James

    I believe that art can be anything that is created with the purpose of evoking thought or feelings from the viewer.
    I think prehistoric humans made art because it was something different from their normal day to day experience. They painted on walls to try and “decorate” by illustrating the things that were going on that were important to their lives.

  43. Abigail Vilcheck

    The dictionary definition of art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, but after being in this class and having a personal interest in creating art it is that and much more. Art to me is world history, a practice of culture, a way of bringing people together, a way to get people to think, and the most personal form of self expression.
    It seems that prehistoric art was a way to express ones culture and to document places in history. It was also used as a means to communicate with others during the time and with others in the future (today).


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