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Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Lascaux Caves,Chardin and Campbell's Soup

The Caves of Lascaux in France have prompted many pages of speculation on their meaning or significance. One of the most popular is their supposed significance in ritual or sympathetic magic. A kind of sacred site for the hunter-gatherers of pre-historic Europe. The speculations may well be right.  As interesting as these speculations are if we start with one thing we can be sure of about these depictions and compare them with other art-works perhaps we can also make some interesting points.
The one thing we know about the animals depicted in the caves is that they were eaten as food by the artists who painted them.
If we compare the paintings of the cave to "The White Tablecloth" by Chardin we can see that the food depicted here has undergone a process. Where the food of the Lascaux caves is still "on the hoof" so to speak, the food of Chardin's painting has been processed from it's raw form of meat, grain and fruit into sausage, baked bread and fermented wine. (How differently we may "read" Chardin's painting had only bread and wine been depicted).
Again when we look at Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Can" we only know this is food by reading the label on the can. In fact if the label read something like "Monkey Embryos" we perhaps wouldn't see food at all whether the can contained tomato soup or not.

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