IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

events: Visual studies today: The power of images


Michele Cometa
The Challenge of Cave Art: On the Future of Visual Culture

The studies on cave art have been relatively neglected in the art-historical discourse and aesthetics during the 20th century, even though they have certainly influenced contemporary theory, much like recent developments in art theory have been influenced by particular interpretations of cave art. The most recent standpoints of visual culture, as well as those of evolutionary aesthetics and cognitive archeology, recommend a sort of revision on how we should approach cave art, proposing a much wider context of interpretations, namely a biology of art that would take into account the beliefs and convictions which homo sapiens had in relation to images, which W.J.T. Mitchell has synthesized in his writings on totemism, fetishism and idolatry. The future of visual culture depends therefore on our ability to re-think such fundamental questions and the laboratory of cave art thus becomes one of the most stimulating paths in developing new anthropology of art.