French artists finish replica of 'magical' cave paintings

MONTIGNAC, France - An army of artisans have laid down their paintbrushes, chisels and pigments after three years of painstaking work to create a true-to-life replica of renowned Stone Age cave paintings long hidden away in southwestern France.

See Full Article

"Absolutely all the work you see on the wall has been engraved, worked and sculpted, chiselled by hand, with little paintbrushes and sometimes even tools used in dentistry," said Francis Ringenbach, the artistic director of the project to replicate the 18,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings.

The meticulously faithful copy of what has been dubbed the "Sistine Chapel of prehistoric art" is now ready to be transported one segment at a time -- 46 all together -- and installed just down the road from the original at a site semi-buried in a hillside in Montignac, in the Dordogne region.

The International Centre of Parital (rock wall) Art, 150 metres long (500 feet) and nine metres high, designed by Norwegian architectural firm Snohetta, will open by the end of the year.

The nearly 2,000 Upper Paleolithic wall paintings depicting rhinos, horses, bison, deer and panthers make up Europe's most important collection of prehistoric art and were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1979.

The caves, discovered in 1940 by four teenagers, quickly became a massive tourist draw, with around a million people flocking to see the work of the oldest known modern humans, who came to Europe from Africa via Asia.

Authorities closed them to the public in 1963 out of concern over the danger posed by humans to the delicate micro-climate.

A limited set of reproductions have been on display in Montignac since 1983, while Chicago's Field Museum hosted the first exhibit outside France of copies of the paintings last year titled "Scenes from the Stone Age".

The 57 million-euro ($65 million) project to replicate the entire set has married cutting-edge technology with a desire for the utmost authenticity in the reproduction.

Ringenbach, himself a sculptor, says the need to be as faithful as possible to the original slowed the team down.

"Sometimes one has to spend hours reproducing just 10 square centimetres (1.5 square inches)," he says.

A 'magical' feeling

The artists benefitted from 3D digital scans of the original paintings that were projected onto the walls, creating a task akin to using tracing paper as they applied layer upon layer of natural pigments.

Chief painter Gilles Lafleur said of the original works: "We try to understand them really, to understand how and why they were painted this way."

But he admits that "time has taken its toll and these animals don't look the way they would have when they were painted. Time has had a visible impact, so we must also recreate that."

Ringenbach says he doffs his cap to the talent of our ancient forebears who only had rudimentary tools to create their masterpieces.

"They were extraordinary technicians, reproducing animal likenesses from memory with their highly vivid movements," he marvels.

Reproducing the originals is, he says, a "magical" feeling.

Whereas the smaller-scale original museum could give only "limited insight" into the site's significance, "here, we reach a whole new level in terms of helping people to understand what Lascaux represents for science, the history of art, prehistory."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • In Egypt, archeologists find part of 4,000-year-old statue

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAIRO -- Egypt says archeologists have discovered the head of a wooden statue, likely belonging to a female regent who ruled the country more than 4,000 years ago. Wednesday's statement by the Antiquities Ministry says the artifact was found in the district of Saqqara, near the ancient Pyramids of Giza. Source
  • Scientists may have found a cause of dyslexia

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A duo of French scientists said Wednesday they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye. In people with the reading disability, the cells were arranged in matching patterns in both eyes, which may be to blame for confusing the brain by producing "mirror" images, the co-authors wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Source
  • Lego unveils 'Women of NASA' set with astronauts, scientists

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ENFIELD, Conn. - Lego has unveiled a set of figures celebrating the women of NASA. The 231-piece set features Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space. Source
  • Google Maps calorie feature yanked out of concern for users with eating disorders

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TORONTO -- A mental health advocate says Google made the right decision to shut down a calorie count feature in its map application that critics said could be damaging to users with eating disorders. The tech company confirmed via email Tuesday that it disabled the function Monday night due to "strong user feedback. Source
  • Why seeing a star crash is a 'watershed moment in astrophysics'

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Scientists have followed gravitational waves to something they've never seen before — the collision of two exotic objects called neutron stars. By observing a fleeting star-like object in the sky in August, they've learned a lot of new things about the universe worth clinking glasses over. Source
  • Smartphone makers duking it out with high-tech features

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The front lines of the battle for smartphone dominance over the coming years have grown clearer after Chinese technology firm Huawei presented an AI-powered phone designed to go head-to-head with Samsung and Apple. Features needed to propel a device into the top end are growing increasingly complex and expensive to develop, meaning only the companies with the deepest expertise and pockets can hope to compete. Source
  • Google offers heightened security for 'high-risk' users

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google said Tuesday it would offer stronger online security for "high risk" users who may be frequent targets of online attacks. The U.S. technology titan said anyone with a personal Google account can enroll in the new "advanced protection," while noting that it will require users to "trade off a bit of convenience" for extra security. Source
  • Researchers call for offshore oil action as Newfoundland seabirds vanish

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Millions of seabirds have vanished since offshore oil production started off Newfoundland 20 years ago, and researchers say there's an urgent need to better monitor related environmental effects. They say a colony of small nocturnal birds called Leach's storm petrels has shrunk dramatically. Source
  • Angler nearly dies after swallowing fish he was trying to kiss

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeThere's nothing neutral about Quebec's religious neutrality bill, Muslim advocate says Angler nearly dies after swallowing fish he was trying to kissFull Episode Sam Quilliam is lucky to be alive. Source
  • Microsoft rolls out new Windows 10 update and laptops

    Tech & Science CTV News
    In this Thursday, May 11, 2017, file photo, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, speaks at the Microsoft Build 2017 developers conference, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) Source