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David Byrne (yes, *that* David Byrne) looks at caveman (*not* cave) paintings and Darwinian art

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Alessandra Kelley

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While doing some research, I chanced across this fascinating blog post by musician and performer David Byrne, about an exhibit of Darwinism-influenced art at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany a few years ago, "Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins."

As Byrne said, after taking in some of the more jaw-dropping Victorian narrative paintings,
caveman art seems to have been an entire genre — tastefully left out of most art history books. Too bad.

Victorians went crackers over Darwin's theory of evolution as it actually was and as it was twisted in popular imagination, and the artists of the time were not immune. Heroic portraitists of imagined cavedwelling ancestors and satirists painting monkeys and obsessive scientific illustrators of the infinite varieties of life and, well, some pretty imaginative and strange sculptors produced a vast array of art, often very weird to modern eyes. Five years ago the Schirn Kundthalle gathered them into an astounding exhibit.

Not only is Byrne's essay illuminating and good-humored, but he posts numerous marvelous and weird artworks from the exhibit, a real favor since the catalogue is put of print and only available at breathtaking prices secondhand (Like, circa. $1000 breathtaking. Yow.).
 
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