In addition to the art of the “primitives” (the term used for indigenous peoples at the time) and the “naives” (children and the mentally ill), the quest for original, unspoilt forms of expression in the 1920s and ‘30s gave rise to a third, often neglected source of inspiration for the development of modern art: prehistoric art, particularly the oldest human art tradition, rock art. Around 100 samples, including many large, wall-sized copies from the Frobenius Institute, as well as photographic and archive material, depict the epic history of rock-art documentation in European caves, the central Sahara, the savannahs of Zimbabwe, and the Australian outback. This exhibition examines the impact of these never-before-seen images on modernity, and the manner in which they have inspired artists.
It also touches on the history of interpreting prehistoric rock art over the last century. The answers to the question about what prehistoric artists originally intended for their works 7,000, 10,000 or 30,000 years ago opens up perspectives on projections typical for the time in the interplay between the evolutionary/functionalistic paradigms and the postulate of deep-rooted basic anthropological dispositions.