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Great Hall of the Bulls, 15,000–13,000 BCE, Paleolithic rock painting, Lascaux, France ©Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

Famous Lascaux Rock Art of France Comes to Africa in Ultra-Realistic Replica

For the first time in history, Africans will be treated to a never-to-be-repeated opportunity to experience the cave art of the famous Lascaux Caves, near the village of Montignac in Dordogne, southwestern France, alongside prehistoric South African rock art.  Fifteen tons of material were imported to create the life size replica of the Lascaux caves.

Lascaux Cave Art: Great Black Cow

Lascaux Cave Art: Great Black Cow

The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, in collaboration with the French Embassy in Pretoria and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), brings a replica of the world-famous Lascaux cave paintings and the cave itself to South Africa from 17 May to 1 October 2018.

Lascaux Cave Art: Horses

Lascaux Cave Art: Horses

The Lascaux cave paintings were discovered in 1940 when a group of teenage boys stumbled upon them in the Dordogne region in southwestern France. The site was opened to the public in 1948 and gained almost instant fame. More than a million people have visited the original cave since its opening and, by 1955, carbon monoxide, the heat and humidity of so many visitors had visibly damaged the artworks. Deteriorating conditions caused fungi and lichen to grow on the walls. The cave was closed in 1963 to protect the priceless artwork. Lascaux was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. Today, extremely limited access is allowed to test for air quality only and to monitor the condition of the cave. The Lascaux cave replica was meticulously recreated using materials and tools identical to those that the original artists used about 17 000 years ago. 

Lascaux Cave Art: Bison

Lascaux Cave Art: Bison

The Palaeolithic cave paintings are around 17 000 years old and are mostly of large animals native to the region at the time. They are regarded as masterpieces because of their outstanding quality and sophistication. In the Lascaux Exhibition, the work is shown as accurate, life-size and handmade replicas. Special lightening enables visitors to admire the masterpieces. The exhibition focuses on the five panels of the Lascaux Nave (the Great Black Cow, The Stags, the Crossed Bison, the Imprint) and the Shaft Scene.

Lascaux Cave Art Scene

Lascaux Cave Art Scene

This will be the first time that the Lascaux paintings will be exhibited alongside the oldest African art, celebrating the earliest works created by humans on two continents. The world’s first examples of art and symbolism, found in Southern Africa, are more than 100 000 years old, while Europe is home to some of the world’s most well-preserved prehistoric cave-art sites. The Lascaux and African rock paintings have much in common and point to one essential truth: there’s more that unites and binds us as people and cultures than there is that divides us.

The South African component of the exhibition, ‘The Dawn of Art’, is curated by the University of the Witwatersrand’s Rock Art Research Institute, the Origins Centre and IFAS-Recherche. It will include photographs of iconic South African rock art, as well as a display of priceless authentic pieces.

Origins Centre Pager Panel

Origins Centre Pager Panel

“The combined exhibition will be seen nowhere else on earth. The masterpieces by our own African ancestors, viewed alongside those of the ancient Paleolithic Europeans, provide a unique opportunity to experience the very earliest dawn of human creativity,” says Sci-Bono Discovery Centre CEO Dr More Chakane. French ambassador to South Africa Christophe Farnaud adds: “France is proud to partner with Sci-Bono Discovery Centre to bring the Lascaux International Exhibition to Johannesburg, a first for Africa. As art and symbolism originated in Southern Africa, it will showcase an important part of our shared heritage. The exhibition highlights our long-lasting cooperation in the fields of culture, research and science in South Africa.”

Storm shelter panel (Origins Centre)

Storm shelter panel (Origins Centre)

The Lascaux exhibition was created by the Departmental Council of Dordogne, with the support of the Regional Council of New Aquitaine, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the European Union. The exhibition’s worldwide tour is organized by the SPL Lascaux International Exhibition.

Several renown speakers have been invited to deliver lectures during the event at the Origins Centre, WITS University.  The public and especially children will have a hands-on experience of mixing their own authentic rock art paint and painting their pictures.

Origins Centre Ochre Workshop

Origins Centre Ochre Workshop

Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is located at the corner of Miriam Makeba and Helen Joseph Streets in Newtown. Exhibition runs from on 17 May 2018 to 1 October 2018.  For more information, please visit www.scibono.co.za

Watch our In-depth Interview with Renaud Ego: The Gesture of Sight, The Splendor of Prehistoric Rock Art, on South African and Lascaux Rock Art.  

Top Image: Great Hall of the Bulls, 15,000–13,000 BCE, Paleolithic rock painting, Lascaux, France ©Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

By Micki Pistorius

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