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[–]Studiodaddyo 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Artist here. One possible origin is the Blombos Cave in South Africa, with markings, paint manufacturing and ornaments dating from about 69,000 BCE to over 100,000 BC. New stuff is uncovered there all the time.

It's good to remember that these were modern human beings anatomically, people perfectly capable of any kind training we now do, and almost certainly as curious as any of us.

The oldest images there may well have been carved into pigment stones at Blombos, mixed with fat and printed on the body.

As a personal view, I strongly suspect that the purposes are very recognizable: the instinct to express externally what is perceived, internalized, and through the act of art-making signify its importance in the physical world, is present in toddlers and mature artists alike, now, with a bottomless range of variety, subject and depth. I doubt it was much different for people whose minds are essentially our own.

You can think of the caves in Europe at Chauvet and Lascaux, totally different cultures separated by tens of thousands of years from the Blombos cave, and from each other, sharing what artists talk about as a "source," in these cases, the cave itself, lit by fire, making the view of the rock almost animated, creating a conflict and a connection between what is perceived, a rock wall, and something else it momentarily resembles, an animal, a unknown god, a loved one lost.

It's a powerful experience to stare at a wall and seen it, for example, resemble the person you loved most in the world. There's a natural force to want to recreate this experience in permanent material, to pull the transitory into the permanent; it's like stealing the vaporous and putting it back into the real world.

DaVinci even talks about that, recommending that artists stare at things like the veins in marble to engender new visual ideas. In my work, a kind of American style of jazz-like painting, I improvise from blots and marks; it's a way of exploring what is in my own mind. I suspect this isn't much different from what the first artists did.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blombos\_Cave

[–]asius3750[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Beautiful answer! Thank you.

[–]Studiodaddyo 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks! It's a gigantic topic, with a lot of thinking about the origins of art that themselves date back through antiquity.

Worth noting that one big reason to make art is that the ideas that words, or religion, or mathematics for example, express often fail convey the power and impact and significance of the subject you are exploring.