This blog wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t taken History of Western Art 3 last term, so I don’t know why I was dreading History of Western Art 1 so much this term. Actually I do. Number 3 was baroque to modern and number 1 is ancient art. Ancient as in, “Let’s memorize the names of forty nearly identical, headless Greek statues!” I begrudgingly quadrupled up on my flash cards.
Then I went to class, and the first slide was not a headless Greek statue, or even a headless Roman statue. It was a closeup of Michelangelo’s not-so-ancient The Creation of Adam. The next slide was one of those paleolithic cave paintings of a hand print from Pech-Merle, France.
I was stunned by the idea that Michelangelo’s most famous of hands and an imprint most likely created when a caveman hocked a pigment-filled loogie on his wall could have similar things to say. In my teacher’s opinion, both pieces are basically pointing out, “Look at what hands can create!” Another theory is that the cave hand prints are primitive signatures, which slightly shifts the meaning. Maybe the hand print artist is also saying, “Look at what I can create!” or, “I am an artist.”
As I walked home, I started thinking about affirmations of self in the (post)modern world. How do we tell the world that we have hands that can create and express? And that’s when Max shouted at my toes. “This is how!” he said, “I’m MAX and I’m nine and a half!”