57 thoughts on “Why make art?

  1. Jenna Y.

    There are a few somewhat shallows reason for making art:out of boredom, for decoration, or just for fun. However, more often than not, an artist has a more particular purpose. A lot of works are created as an outlet of expression or a medium through which an individual can release pent up emotions. Art work can also be used to address social issues, or criticize accepted norms. Furthermore, an artist may choose to use artwork to enact cultural change. Artwork is often an accurate representation of what society views as important at the time. For example, the Woman of Willendorf, among many similar sculptures of the Patheolithic period, shows that fertility and childbirth were vital to early human life. There are also many cave drawings of animals. This is because animals were the source of food, of clothing, and essentially of life for early humans. Prehistoric humans create cave artwork as a form of record keeping. There are no documents from this time period, so artwork is one of the very few ways that historians can understand what was important to the average prehistoric man.

  2. Virginia

    People make art to express themselves. Prehistoric humans made art to make these objects and caves their own. Creating this art would then allow them to have a sense of ownership over what they were trying to accomplish. In the bottom piece of cave artwork, I believe that prehistoric humans wanted the horses; creating the artwork allowed the horses to become a part of their lives in their cave.

  3. Kiele M.

    The whole world is a canvas. Every action, every movement, every stroke of the brush can arguably be called art. Although using a different side of the brain, mathematics is another of the innumerable forms of art. Therefore, art is essential for survival. From a method of communication-such as the Stele of Hammurabi, a code of written laws-to a technique of safety-like the Lion Gate of Mycenae, which functioned as an intimidating structure to ward off enemies- art has been a part of human society for decades. Humans create art as a way to represent society, express the physiological state of the artist, as a response to political aspects of the time period and as a fundamental means of survival.

    Consequently, prehistoric humans began to branch out on how they survived. They did so by recording their society and molding objects into what many call art. The Venus of Willendorf is an embodiment of fertility; a demonstration of how important childbearing was in the Paleolithic society. The Two Bison from France is another metaphor of how significant animals were to prehistoric society, for many had to migrate with the herds to maintain their food and resources supply. Therefore, art was an important part of the prehistoric community and set up the foundations for the advancement of art to become how as we know it as today.

  4. Kaylyn S.

    We make art for a similar reason to why we appreciate it. Art isn’t always solely for the one-sided expression of the artist. What one person takes from someone’s work may not always serve the same purpose to another, and having this alternate view is how humans can interact, share ideas, express emotion, and share the ideas of a culture. Through this interaction between the artist and those that appreciate it a new form of communication is presented. Visually, there is some form of free range, so to say, that people have when interpreting art. This could be the same with watching a dance performed on stage, or hearing the lyrics to a song, the meaning is unique to everyone and unique to the time period. In a time period such as as today, what’s important to society isn’t going to be the same in prehistoric art. Commonly expressed in a time period such as the Paleolithic era are aspects that relate more closely to survival, nature, and the main aspects of a culture that had far less resources than people today. The Woman of Willendorf shows the critical emphasis on fertility in women, drawing attention to the more feminine features that today might not be viewed at as “beautiful.” Individuality wasn’t as important then, seeing as the attention isn’t more on her face, but more on the idea of being a woman bearing a child. This also indicates that male attraction wasn’t particularly important then, seeing as the figure isn’t the classic image of alluring. Since the piece is so focused on bearing a child, art to them was their form of expression, to show the joys and fears of pregnancy.

  5. Joe Thompson

    Art is a subject that has been around what seems like forever. There is no wrong or specifically right answer as to why humans make art. Every artist whether they are a musician, painter, photographer etc. has there own reason why they make art. Many artists will give you a unique answer as to why they create such beautiful art. For some it is a passion and something they use to escape from the stressful world. Others use it to give a message or express an emotion they are feeling internally. Artists may also try to put a meaning or a hidden message in their artwork to give an effect on a reader, viewer, or listener. The question of why make art can and will always vary when you ask an artist.

  6. Emily H.

    Art shows the raw emotion, desires, and importance of the creator. It allows expression that words or actions could not convey and tells a story of the individualism of a person. The prehistoric artists probably created art pieces as a symbol and permanent reminder of what was important to them and of what they found was beautiful in their society. The cave paintings are of varying animals which the artists would continually come in contact with. They could have painted them to preserve the idea of their importance they serve as food, as a record of the game they had caught, or simply be because someone had observed beauty in the animals around them in pure admiration. The Woman of Willendorf leans more to what the society of the time treasured and valued. Although she could be created to express the emotions and evolution of a woman’s life, fertility and its importance to that period of time seems to be a larger factor in understanding the reason the artist crafted her.

  7. Kenny Lyon

    I think art is a form of expression that transcends spoken language. People make art to communicate emotions that go beyond words. Sure we have words to describe those emotions, but I don’t think the words we use can accurately depict those emotions. Art, however, can not only share these emotions, but inspire different emotions in each person who sees the art. The art from the Paleolithic Era was probably used more as a form of communication. The Woman of Willendorf was a sign of fertility and shows the importance of women and child birth to early mankind. Perhaps the sculpture was passed from one woman who had a child, to one who was carrying a child as a good luck charm. The cave painting could have illustrated the animals that were to be hunted, or as a teaching tool for younger children. Having a picture the people could see would have made early communication easier.

  8. Christian Hughes

    Art is an attempt to recreate ideas in an individuals mind into the physical world. Art allows for people to express their ideas to the world. Whether it is for religious, cultural or individual reasons, art is a means of representing perspectives of the world, and how they happened. This allows for history to be recorded through art. This perspective can either be as it is seen in nature, or a variation of how it appears in the physical world. But in order to best display an idea, art must be created.

    Prehistoric humans could decorate objects or draw on caves because they wanted to display their successes, their way of life, and what they valued. People, regardless of the time era are inclined to be proud of what they value, thus it is shown in art.

  9. Nicholas R.

    One of the qualities of human consciousness and perception is the abstraction of our experiences. We do not merely observe what is present, but reflect on what we’ve already experienced. A human being can, for example, call up the concept or image of a horse even when there is not a horse present. Perhaps the sound of a rock dropping to the floor evokes the clop of a hoof, and brings the thought to mind. Taken a step further, perhaps a person associates horses with a raw concept- a hunter who rides on horseback associates the horse with feeling powerful. Say this hunter offers to help someone gather firewood for a day, and fells a large tree single-handedly. This calls to mind a similar feeling to riding on horseback. The horse symbolizes the abstract concept of feeling powerful, and the abstract notion of power brings to mind the iconic figure of a horse.

    The point of this example is to demonstrate that humans do not purely live in the moment, we also inhabit the space of our thoughts and emotions. We have limited control over what goes on in the physical world around us, and I would argue that humans make art as a way to influence and shape the world of our thoughts. By painting those horses on the wall of your cave in Lascaux, you have not only exerted a small measure of influence on the physical world around you, but made an even larger impact on your own mental state. Your painting becomes the final step in the process I was describing. You see the painting, the painting evokes the form of a horse, the form of a horse evokes the concept of a horse, and the concept of a horse evokes a feeling of power. You have created a physical, tangible object capable of influencing the way you think and feel. That is absolutely incredible, and that is why humans make art.

  10. Ben O

    Art is one of the most significant parts of history. It allows us to see what life was like before us from several different perspectives. Without art we wouldn’t have an idea of how life personally effected individuals. Art also allows us to see the growth of cultures. We can see the transition from cave paintings to clay moldings and beyond, and as the different means of expressing art developed it showed us that the cultures within the art were developing as well. So why do we make it today? We make it because it gives us all an opportunity to express ourselves during a certain time. That time could be as little as a thought we randomly came across one day all the way to an emotion we have towards something significant impacting our lives.

  11. Casey Waters-Heflin

    I believe that art is a creative outlet, and can be expressed in many multitudes of ways. Art can be an indicator of different emotions that the artist was feeling at the time. A reason that prehistoric humans chose to decorate objects and caves around them could have been that it would have made storytelling easier if there was a pictorial representation of a hunt drawn on a cave wall. Giving gifts to one another or to represent any gods that were prayed to could conceivable been another, or also simply out of boredom.

  12. Ryan Z.

    People make art because they want to express themselves. If the artist feels a certain way he/she will create a piece that represents what they are feeling. Art is used to convey meanings that can’t be expressed in words, but by drawing, painting, or sculpting. People also create art to preserve something in history.Art shows us what life was like hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Sculptures are made to last thousands of years to show people in the future what the artists was feeling or thought. Art is simply a way for people to show off their beliefs in a way that they don’t have to speak.

    The decortion of caves or objects by prehistoric humans could be a way for them to show how they lived or what they do or see everyday. Decorating objects or caves could also be a way of commucating with each other since they probably didn’t have any form of speech or language. It also could simply be because they needed to pass time so they would draw on something near them which happend to be the rocks in their caves that they lived in.

  13. Aleana Purcell

    A reason for creating art could be to provide an outlet. Everyone takes out frustrations or happiness in different ways. Art can allow people a way of exposing these emotions. Art can also provide a sense of accomplishment. If a person works on a paper, equation, or any number of things that require a large amount of effort the end product provides a satisfaction that allows a person to become proud of their work. Art also allows artists to freeze time like a picture, or writing in a journal. Artists create based on their lives, the way they felt in that moment, or the events surrounding a time period. Artists can look back at a piece and remember why they painted it and can continue to grow.
    Prehistoric humans may have painted because they had no other way to communicate. We know they did not have a way to write words, we are not sure if they even had a language, so pictures and paintings may have been the only way to communicate with one another. Drawing the animals and hunt on caves may have also been a way to respect or remember the animals they had killed. Another reason may be the story behind the painting. For example, if a hunter had an extraordinary hunt and experience, they may have had painted it in order to remember the experience and retell it like a story.

  14. Jillian F.

    “Why make art?”. There are so many reasons and incentives behind making art; growing up in a home that both appreciated art and practiced it, in many of its forms, one simple answer would not suffice. Art for some, is a pass time which alleviates stress, or expresses emotions one cannot describe, and for others it is the way they document their life. Humans have the desire to document life, this for certain, has withstood the test of time. Romans had scrolls to depicts their great wars. The Mayans kept meticulous records of their history. For a primitive culture that may not have had a well articulated language, or merely just desired to document what was a staple to their culture, this could be a reason why the caves are decorated and why such artifacts have been discovered. The caves served not only for the purpose of shelters but also served as the culture’s history books. The artifact depicting the woman could have been made to represent a woman’s fertility because it was so important to the settlements to have women to reproduce.

  15. James Crisp

    I feel like early humans primarily focused on the part of art that would be deemed helpful, chronicling events and hopefully bringing them good fortune. Cave paintings could have been used to mark locations they had already visited, and what sort of game the surrounding area contained. It could be a way to claim the land, or even to record potential threats nearby. Items like the small statues and sculptures on the other hand could have been seen as tokens of good luck and fortune, things that could literally bring them supernatural favour and make their lives easier. Art now is used as a way to express emotions and opinions, while still being a valuable source of history, it reflects the evolution of a civilization’s values, views, and even technologies.

  16. Daniel Clark

    In my opinion people make art to express their opinions and feelings in a different way from talking. Art functions as a language to express feelings in images instead of words. The emotions of the artist can be seen for as long as the piece exists. There is also a degree of enjoyment and satisfaction that comes with creating something with one’s hands. But art goes beyond the satisfaction of just the artist. Other people can attach just as many feelings to any particular piece maybe even more so than the artist. Prehistoric humans created art for pure enjoyment. They needed something to do when they were not foraging or hunting for food. To sit down after a long day of surviving and just to make something that would outlast them forever must have been a powerful experience. I’m not sure how developed language was at this point, but cave drawling to me seem to tell a story of a hunt or how they got to the cave. It leaves something behind to show that they were there and tells their story to all that come after.

  17. Sarah Wilson

    One reason for making art could be a way for a person to express an emotion or situation that they are currently feeling. In this way, art can give a powerful insight to the human mind and how people think. Art can also be used as a way of entertaining oneself or even entertaining others. For example, a person can make art and then put it on display in a museum for others to enjoy, or they can sell it for money. Art is also an excellent way for people to preserve history. People can create art to represent the culture and customs of the time they are living in. Then, people of later times and refer to this art to learn about the customs and values of the past.

    Art can take many different forms. What people consider to be art can vary from person to person, but in my opinion, anything that was consciously created by an individual would constitute as art.

  18. Michael E.

    The sensual perception of art and the act of creating it has been shown to release dopamine in the human brain. Engaging oneself in art is beneficial because it is a direct source of pleasure, but also because it creates a space for cognitive growth. Interacting with interesting and original pieces is especially conducive to discovery.

    Perhaps prehistoric humans created art as a way to document strategic hunting formations, or to remember a successful hunting season. However, they most likely created art because hunting was central to their existence, and the art served as a tangible projection of their desires to hunt successfully. By painting themselves hunting they documented the emotions associated with a successful hunt, which later served as reinforcement for motivational attitudes.

  19. John Sullivan

    In our generation and the few past generations, it seems mostly that people see art as a way to express themselves. If they are in a happy mood, they could paint or create something cheerful. If they are sad or depressed they could make something dark and gloomy. People also can use art to show their other interests, or make a point. But in the prehistoric era without all of our increased knowledge and modern technologies, humans probably painted what they idolized. Prehistoric humans hunted animals and gathered food, something that took up a lot of time and probably occupied most of their mind. They also cherished women, for they bared and cared for the children.

  20. Courtney

    I believe that individuals create art for multiple different reasons. The list of reasons why art is created is as vast as the number of ideas and thoughts of living individuals. No two peices of art work are exactly the same because no two individuals are exactly the same. The reason the peice is created lies entirely with the thoughts of the individual who created it. When it comes to prehistoric artwork and the question of why those individuals would take the time to stop and decorate an object or a cave I would consider whether or not it had anything to do with the lack of written or spoken language. I believe that these prehistoric people were trying to convey a message or communicate some type of record by doing the only thing they knew how to do, using their hands as tools. We can only imagine exactly what these objects and cave paintings mean but their meaning had enough importance for these people to create and decorate these objects.

  21. Elizabeth B.

    When I think of art I think of famous artists like Picasso and paintings and sculptures of Greek goddesses. I think in every traditional sense of the word. However there are other types of art like the ones shown here from the prehistoric era or even what we think of as contemporary art. I think in terms of the Prehistoric era the reasons for making art were to communicate between generations and to depict stories through cave paintings. Maybe some cave paintings and decorated objects act as warnings for what lies ahead for future hunters and gatherers. It is also possible that these prehistoric people created art to help themselves understand nature and the cycle of life around them and they needed to pass down these warnings and understandings through visual representations since they did not have a written language.

  22. Natalie Beyer

    There could be an infinite amount of reasons that would compel one to make art. Depicting the most intimate details about daily life, inner emotions, feelings, and the universe around them, humans express themselves by making tangible representations of their existence. This is why even prehistoric humans decorated objects in something as lowly as a cave because for them it was a method with which they told stories, represented their culture, and brought their inner emotions to life. For example, the Woman of Willendorf showed what life was like as a woman and a child-bearer in that time period.

  23. Theo Burton

    Art is a way to assert yourself, display an accomplishment or tell a story. Prehistoric humans decorated caves probably for the same reason we like to decorate our rooms or our lawns, it looks nice and there is a sense of satisfaction from completing it. Although some prehistoric works of art appear to have a lot of time and effort spent into creating them for a purpose other than to just make the area look nice. I think a lot of art back then was mainly used as a visual guide to tell stories. Storytelling comes in many forms and is the number one source of entertainment for people in any time period. The art prehistoric humans made is their only form of tangible communication and is something that can stick around and not be forgotten.

  24. Jacie Housman

    I think people make art to express themselves or to create something that shows they were there. For some it is a way to show their emotions through creating something. Also just to make something they think is beautiful. I believe prehistoric humans decorated objects or caves as a way of communication or understanding. Maybe they used the objects for trade or decorated things to worship or show gratitude towards something. Like we saw with the clay sculptures of the women,it could be used to show all the different stages of womanhood.

  25. Emma Sax

    I believe that art is important piece to history to show the different views that different people had on certain historical events or just everyday life. Art is also a great way of expressing ones self and how different emotions are expressed in people. I believe that prehistoric groups used art as a means of religion and communication. The people needed something to do in their spare time and art was probably a good way to fill in the time and also let the people express themselves. The cave art was probably a way for the people to communicate with other groups to show them what food sources or dangers they may face.

  26. Julie B.

    People make art for various reasons, the most prominent being as a means of expression. Art as we know it generally has a meaning, so it is interesting to find meaning in the prehistoric sculptures or cave art. These works can represent what was most important to the society that created them, such as the Woman of Willendorf, or the clay and rock sculpture depicting the two bison. The Woman of Willendorf represents the need for fertility and nourishment given to the society by females. The same goes for the bison. A hunter-gatherer society would find the bison quite necessary for survival, due to the fact that it provides many of life’s needs such as food and clothing. People most likely decorated their caves with this art because they wanted to be surrounded with the things that they valued at the time.

  27. Taylor B.

    In my opinion, art has always been a way to express our feelings and thoughts. Its a way to describe ourselves in a different way. There is art all around us and it affects our feelings in many different ways. Art is created to speak to someone in ways not possible by affecting our moods; it can make you happy or even depressed.

    During pre-historic times, things were widely different than they are now. Caves and rocks could have been the only way to express their feelings and their adventures during those times. It could even be that they artists wanted to communicate to a specific person or to the future. In other words, art can be used for many different reasons and communication could have been the main reason for it all.

  28. Eliza N.

    Art is powerful. Not only can it change someones emotions by a single glance but it can tell stories and describe the feelings of the artist. Artists have been expressing emotions, beliefs and stories through art forever. It is something that has never gone “out of style,” it has only improved and become more prominent as time goes by. Personally, as a studio art major I enjoy making ceramic art. I think making something beautiful that can be used and admired out of something so natural and simple is very rewarding.

    Many things have changed since prehistoric times but the idea of staring at a blank wall for hours has never seemed interesting. I think that prehistoric humans painted their walls to document stories and to brighten up their homes. Since they were always on the move while hunting and gathering they changed caves often and decorating the walls gave them a chance to leave their mark and tell their story.

  29. Karlie F.

    I think that art is an incredible form of expression. Throughout the ages art has been a constant in all religions, ethnicities, and genders. It is almost a way of story telling and preserving a culture. People create art in order to express a feeling that can’t be shown in any other form or that they believe is too powerful to evoke in any other way. Cave paintings or objects can be a way that prehistoric people told others about their lives and their experiences. Without art no one could learn from anyone else’s lives, feelings, and experiences. We wouldn’t be able to grow through other’s art and expression if it wasn’t constantly created through the times.

  30. Matt N

    Art could have originally been made to express the emotions of the prehistoric humans. With Woman of Willendorf not only could have it been for fertility but also something to give hope for a healthy pregnancy. For the overall question “why make art?” I would say it’s to express ones self. As for the decorations in he cave it could have been perceived as good luck to paint the animals on the as if you would get more animals or it could be charting the animals which animals you would find in that area.

  31. Neal Fanning

    People have been making art for millions of years and there’s one logical answer as to why they do this; that answer is to express themselves. People want to show and visualize to others the things that they care about and depend on. Whether they do this to display to others or to remind themselves is unclear. What is clear though, is that art has been an integral part in letting humans express themselves for as long as mankind can remember.

  32. Brittany H

    Prehistoric people could have made art for several reasons. Art can be used to keep records of great hunts and tell stories of the society. Prehistoric people could have used pieces like The Woman of Willendorf as talismans to bring strength or fertility. Cave paintings could be used as marker for whose cave belonged to whom.

  33. Ryan Craig

    I believe that art in general is a way to express emotions and a way humans document their feelings and observations of the world around them. Talking more specifically to the cave paintings of animals from the past, my theory is that paleolithic humans were much in touch with nature and the world around them. Animals literally were what these people depended on for life, being a major food resource as well as resource to make tools (bones, skins). Painting caves with images of animals and making clay figures of animals may have been a way to decorate an otherwise unsightly cave. For the small women figurines, they may have been toys or what we would call dolls for paleolithic girls. The tendency for the figurines to appear pregnant may have been in order to press that role model and aspiration into the girls’ heads from an early age. Making babies that would hopefully become adults was extremely important to these people’s survival. In the end, we can only speculate what the inspirations the people who made these artworks had.

  34. Emma Olson

    Art is usually an expression of the person making it. Whether the person is expressing themselves or other things, it is an act of expression none the less. This expression could be for many reasons: for a job, for a release from stress, or for a gift. Art, at the end of the day, is for someone to express themselves and leave a mark in history in the process.

    Prehistoric humans could have decorated objects and caves for many reasons. One reason could have been they wanted to leave their mark on an area before they moved on to hunt prey. As these people were constantly on the move following herds of animals, they could have wanted to leave a mark or symbol so that if another tribe came upon their area, that tribe would know people were there before them. Another reason could have been that these objects were used as trading things between bands of people. The objects could have been their bartering tools to gain supplies, weapons, etc.

  35. Reid Moffatt

    There’s a wonderful song in the Theatre Department’s show “Sunday in the Park With George” (forgive me for bringing it up) called “Children and Art”. In it, a character explains that there are only two ways a human being can last forever: through their children or their art. I think it’s an interesting theory that making art may actually be a sort of survival instinct for us. It maybe isn’t as important as finding shelter or food or reproducing, but as early humans settled and didn’t need to focus on just surviving to the next day, perhaps they worried about the days beyond the next. It can’t be a coincidence that humans have always been storytellers, whether orally or through art of some kind. Why is that? Maybe because we all want to leave our mark on this world, even after we’re gone. You don’t even have to believe in an afterlife to worry about what you’re leaving behind for the next generation. So as humans developed, maybe art became a way for them to do that, even if it was just subconsciously.

  36. Sarah C.

    Art is an important medium for people to express themselves and share what they love with the world. Art can be an expression of emotion, culture, and even history. Different people make art for different reasons, but it can almost always be said that people make art because it means something to them. Some people have tattoos because they like to express their personalities through their bodies, and some people like to create art on canvases because they prefer expressing themselves in the outside world. Either way these people often pour their emotions into the art they make and it has a special meaning that they want to share. Art can express how one feels and it makes people happy to create it.
    Culture is another important part of why some people make art. A person’s culture says a lot about them and many people like to create visual references of things in their environments. This is especially popular in Middle Eastern art. People can capture their culture as it changes through time by making art as well.
    History can be documented through art as well because many people throughout time have created sculptures and paintings of their lives, so this can tell us more about how the world became what it is today. Every piece of art tells a story and can be open for interpretation.

  37. Michaela C

    Art is way of making visual the human condition. It transcends language barriers and can be universally understood. Making art is a form of self expression, but beyond that, it is a method of communication. Looking at a piece of art can evoke all kinds emotions, encourage critical thinking, or even simply be informative. Perhaps the painters of the cave art knew that images on the cave wall would be the most efficient way of preserving their culture for future eyes.

  38. Christine Hachem

    Art allows for expression through an outlet that no other way can. Art does not have to be limited to a painting or a drawing but can be anything trying to show emotions or expression. It was a way for people to communicate by drawing on walls of caves or molding figures of something symbolic. We can sometimes find out what political issues and other history that was happening at the time the painting or song was created. Art is also a way to leave your mark in your culture and each piece of art is a story waiting to be told.

  39. Amanda Riffe

    Prehistoric art was created as a means of communication, I think. Through images they realized that they could pass stories down. In fact, they probably understood art like we understand language because it was their language. Did they know their art would survive for centuries and that we would be positively baffled by it all? I’m guessing not. To them it was as clear as day what “The Woman of Willendorf” meant, or the “Two Bison.” There was no mystery, just like there’s no mystery when I hear the word “dog” or “hat.”

    That said, I don’t think it was intended to be a means of creative outlet and expressionism, though that’s not to say those who dabbled in the prehistoric arts didn’t feel something of accomplishment. Also, somewhere along the way, they probably realized how awesome it made their caves look. So I think first and foremost it was something that was necessary, and, just like humans have evolved, art did too, into something multifunctional.

    1. Amanda Riffe

      Ok, I have to add to what I just said: If I’m comparing prehistoric images to modern language, and I still say it’s a good comparison, then I can say that the art was creative in and of itself even if it wasn’t fully realized by the artist. Just like language is an art and sometimes we don’t realize it is because it is imbedded in our culture and our way of life. Maybe they knew they were creating art, but most likely I think they knew that they were communicating because it was a necessity.

  40. James Moore

    I believe that art serves as a medium for human expression. Expression is almost essential for human life and happiness, and is a powerful mechanism for self-understanding. The creation of art is something that has always accompanied the experience of modern man, and there is no reason for that to change any time in the near future. People find meaning in art, and it helps them project a model of understanding of not only themselves, but the world around them as well.

    It would not surprise me if the cave paintings that we find made by prehistoric humans were made for much of the same reasons. It illustrates the things that they admired or valued, and may have also had more concrete meanings placed upon them by their creators.

  41. Sarah Law

    Art is a means of expression that allows for different interpretation and emotion from the viewer. It is a way to turn an idea, an emotion, a political stance, or even love into something more than the thoughts inside your head. Art is made in order to capture the raw emotions, events, love, priorities, and hardships of the artist in order to give the people around them and future society a glimpse inside the artists mind. Prehistoric humans who decorated objects or caves may have done this in order to record the events, deaths, diseases, and to record the history of what happened for future generations. It was a way to leave messages and warnings to those traveling to that same place instead of letting those people be unprepared.

  42. Stephanie Wismer

    People create art to express something that simply cannot be put in words. Art serves as an outlet of emotions, ideas, and self. Art is not necessarily something that we create to communicate a message–after all, art is meant to be felt, not understood. Art is a very pure form of self expression; it can express wants or wishes, fears, characteristics, beauty–anything. We create art to express who we are.

  43. Erin Rhodes

    We really have no way of telling exactly why art came into existence. Were prehistoric people simply bored? Did art originate merely as a way to pass the time? Or is there a deeper meaning behind these carved statuettes and drawings? In my opinion, the best way to infer why prehistoric people painted caves and carved figures is to look at why we make art today. In today’s society, art is used as a form of expression. It is used as a manner to document our experiences or convey our personal views, beliefs, and feelings to others. Because of this observation, as well as the fact that no written documents can be found dating back to these times, I believe art was the very first form of communication between people, before language came into existence.

  44. Nina Wutrich

    Art is made as a way of expressing oneself, whether to display one’s emotions, religious zeal, civic pride, or love for another human being. Prehistoric people probably decorated their caves as a way to individualize their space. Personal caves did not exist, so many people would have shared the same space. In addition, they could have decorated the cave walls with paintings of animals as a sort of sacrifice. The animals painted on the walls were representative of the animals that they wished to bring back to the cave after a successful hunt. These animals could have also been worshiped by prehistoric man, and the paintings on the walls could be a way of venerating them.

  45. Brittany W.

    There are numerous reasons why humans create art. Art is an expression of oneself and the world around them. In the prehistoric days, before the modern distractions and ways to express oneself, art seems like a natural progression. It is almost as if we are designed to recreate what our minds and imaginations produce. Even now, people who are not innately artistic per say, will often doodle when bored. It is the simplest form of expression, outside of the individual. Other than simply self expression, art acts as a documentary and even warning to future spectators. It is a way of saying through pictures, we were here, and so were all of these animals. Depictions of previous dangerous experiences could even serve as a warning as well. Before verbal and written communication came about, cave drawings would have been the best way to get things across more clearly.

  46. Nigi Roberts

    I believe people are drawn to creating art because it is a simplistic forms of expression, a way to make sense of our emotions and the vast universe that surround us. Art is so diverse and vast that just about anything can be art. So in many ways art is a unifier because often times it serves as a common denominator between people. It forces people to think, interpret and understand the expressive imaginations and creations of others.
    I always believe that prehistoric humans created decorative tools and painted in caves as a way to not only communicate with each other but to also pass on vital survival tactics and skills on to the next generations.

  47. Daniel L.

    I believe that art is made as a form of documentation, expression, and freedom. It allows the artist or creator to put how they feel about and see the world onto a surface or sculpture. Art is one of few actions that can mean whatever you want it to mean, essentially there are no wrong answers. It lasts almost forever barring anything that could destroy it. It is one of the most highly regarded and most idealized things in the world. There are museums among other apparatuses that hold art and allow anyone to see and experience it. Anyone is able to make art as long as you can make an argument as to why it should be viewed as art. Art is in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes and that holds true for all types of art and artists. Humans simply make art because they can and want to.

  48. Morghan S

    Although we can not pin point when art began we can say that humans have always found an outlet for their emotions. Whether a cave painting or a priceless Van Gogh art is art and it all should be valued the same. People have used art to document historical events, to show their perspective on a particular view point or just as a simple distraction from their everyday lives. We will never know why the first humans in Lascaux drew on those caves, but we do know that they took time and large mounts of effort to make them so they should be valued as true masterpieces.

  49. Claire Z

    Art has always been there for humans to express themselves and to communicate with others. Art is an outlet to let out any emotion let it be frustration or happiness. Humans can use art to let others know of things that they have found whether it’s a field full of bulls or an area that is dangerous. Art can be a way to document certain events like their first kill or someone’s birthday. Art has been studied and made for so long that now it seems like a natural thing to do when we’re bored or feeling expressive. Art has a way to let out any emotion or forget anything or embrace it. No one knows truly why humans in the Altamira Cave or the Lascaux Cave painted but based on the amazing artwork we can only guess and hope to preserve it.

  50. Alyssa G

    I think art is used as a way to communicate. You can convey emotions, warn others with depictions of danger, or represent important aspects of your society by creating tributes. It’s a form of communication that transcends language, and that is invaluable to our capacity to learn about people who are unlike us.

  51. Victoria Jenkins

    Painting, sculpting as well as various other forms of art provides a means of catharsis to their creator. Working with hands, and composing marvels can release tension, and/or express happiness or resemble a subject of importance. Additionally, art is useful in discovering histories of the past, or depicting a belief. Furthermore, art is informative as well often are objects of praise.

    My experience with real dedication to making art only lasted as long as I felt I had the time. I did It when I was anxious, or I felt like making something worth the efforts and something i’d be proud of. Creating art truly soothed me, and I could clear my mind and function well as a result. Viewing art is amazing as well because we’re able to view something old, or maybe something just really cool created by another human being. Either way you look at it, art is a wonderful thing, and an great hobby i would add!

  52. Steve B

    It is impossible to know why prehistoric humans would create art. It may be that there is more than one answer to the question, depending upon the nature of the work created, the time of its creation, and its locale. It is suggested in Janson, and elsewhere, that prehistoric art may have had a religious or ritualistic function. It has also been suggested that artistic expression may have functioned as means of communication between humans, before the advent of language. If we knew more about how the prehistoric human brain functioned, we might have a better understanding of the art; however, and somewhat ironically, it is probably fair to say that much of what we currently think we know about the prehistoric human brain is based upon inferences drawn from the art itself. Finally, even if we assume that the human brain was at a very primitive stage of development in the Upper Paleolithic period, it does not follow – at least to me – that prehistoric humans lacked a strong need and impulse to express themselves; before humans were capable of language, the visual arts may have been an achievable method of self-expression.

    Reply ↓

  53. Olivia Smith

    People make art as a form of communication and expression. The people in prehistoric times were probably trying to communicate to others about their life and everything in between. I know when I make art, I have to think of a purpose and a way to distribute it. The people in prehistoric times were very creative in the fact that they used the cave and other materials that ended up lasting thousands and thousands of years, which is truly amazing. There are a lot of reasons to create art but the main one is self-expression.

  54. SE Ripley

    Art in prehistoric times is likely to be created for, in my opinion resulting from research and hypothesis, two main reasons. These reasons seem to be divided into either documentation/coping with life at the time, or for distinctly supernatural reasons.
    My basis for the first reason are the various ‘Venus’ statues found in Europe, such as the famous ‘Woman of Willendorf’. While many experts at first saw these female figures to be fertility figures, many today hold a theory that these were, in fact, not made by men, but by women. This is supported by the varying ages and states of life the statues are represented in. If they were simply fertility figures, the majority would be plump, heavily feminine, young women. However, the variations are wide, from slim young girls to pregnant women to very old women; this seems to place the figures as more of ‘self-portraits’, perhaps even to some, coping mechanisms for the lives they lead. However, fertility figures could still be a high possibility, due to the heavy link between art and supernatural beliefs, as discussed below.
    The paintings left in caves must be seen to have a higher purpose than simply decoration or boredom. The hunter-gatherer society of this time did not likely have much time between survival to paint entire caves, especially with such detail and in such difficult-to-reach areas. The indentations of spears thrown at walls, for example, points to some sort of ritual use. What fascinates me, and personally convinces me of this link between art and the early people’s belief in a higher, sometimes volatile power, is the differing representations between cave painting portrayals of humans and animals.
    Animals such as those seen clearly in the caves of Spain, France etc. are painted in striking realism, using shading, varying colours, and oftentimes, shapes of the walls they are painted on, giving a three-dimensional effect. On the other hand, humans are always rendered as ‘stick figures’, unrealistic markings. This, especially, for example, in death scenes shows a very strong fear of the power of their art. If these paintings were made simply to be narratives or decoration, this obvious fear would not be present. The realism of animals shows the power these renderings are being given, even if their exact purpose is yet mostly unknown. The out-of-way locations of these paintings also disprove their purpose as ‘boredom’ or mere ‘decoration’. A question that must be asked is- ‘for what purpose would these prehistoric peoples go to such lengths to create this art?’
    Certainly, the fear of depicting Man in the same realism as the animals, who for these peoples held the real power in life, cements their fear of art becoming life, as opposed to life being represented as art…

  55. Claire D

    There are many reasons why prehistoric humans made art. They may have wanted to make their homes a little less boring and add some of their style and creativity so they would have something nice to look at. Cave art sometimes tell stories also. Since their caves would last for a long time they may have wanted their stories kept so their family could remember it for generations in the future. They could have also gotten bored and wanted something to do, so they turned to art. One more possibility is because they might want to give something to their family members as presents or reminders of them, so they may have made small sculptures or other small pieces of art that they could keep with them.


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