Ancient Art Styles
Objective: Compare and contrast the use of naturalistic and stylized modes of artistic representation in prehistoric rock art.
Background: Native American artists used a variety of representational modes to depict their subject matter. Many real world objects were depicted in both naturalistic and stylized perspectives. How were these perspectives used to illustrate real world objects in prehistoric rock art?
Activity: Use the Search screen to retrieve from the database a selection of images of real world objects, such as humans or animals. For this purpose, you will need to select Rock Art Category = Prehistoric Native American, and then you can experiment with different Rock Art Type and General Motif selections. See if you can identify examples of stylized and naturalistic images in your search results. How do these two modes of artistic representation compare? In what ways are they similar? In what ways do they contrast?
Additional Exercise: See if you can identify any relationships between the use of naturalistic or stylized modes and specific categories of real world objects; for example, is one or the other mode used more frequently to illustrate humans, animals, or other categories of images? For another exercise, go to the library and find one or more illustrated books on Native American art (see bibliography section for suggested references); how are naturalistic and stylized modes of representation used in other media, and how do these examples compare with the rock art examples?
Contributed by: George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey