It seems less extraordinary to think that the development of art would progress simpler stages - scribbling, then symbols, and so on - and only later get to the level of refinement we see at places like Lascaux. Also that we wouldn't necessarily see much of that in the archaeological record, because you've probably got to have advanced to the point where your art is very serious business before you're doing something as difficult and potentially dangerous as putting it deep inside a cave.
So, assume that people probably were drawing on rocks for a long time before the earliest cave paintings we know of. And assume that, for much of that time, it's typically quite a bit less refined than what we typically see in caves. Ask any kid, and even most adults - making beautiful figurative art is hard, and takes a lot of practice.
I agree that we can't know for sure that this isn't a fragment of some larger piece of representational art. But I can't fault these researchers for going with the simplest available hypothesis.
It didn't go well when I told him my 3 year old scribbled all over it and I just turned it in anyway because he was a nut job and I thought he would love it.
I'm simply making the argument that complementing someone on their art that a child drew came about because of the arbitrary interpretation of what "valuable art" is in school.
More folks can afford to make artwork, thanks to both photography and much better printing.
So yeah, the reasons for making art have changed. I'm not sure it has ever been actually useful except to show off wealth or to improve surroundings. None of this matters, though. If you don't like art, don't buy it or make it. Maybe you enjoy some sorts of art (music and movies, for example) but not traditional artworks. Again, pass.
Now, as far as people being quick to make assumptions: I find that people need a reason for folks to do art. People attribute all sorts of meanings to artwork that I simply made because I thought it looked neat. I'm not sure why I can't just make something I like to look at and leave it at that.
It's hard for me to imagine a more Philistine sentiment than dismissing something as art on the grounds that, if a child can do it, it must not be art.
The only issues I have are the proponents of abstract art doing 2 things:
(1) Presenting abstract art as a worthier pursuit than illustration, as if somehow abstract art is harder or more unique than all other art forms.
You can feel the vibe from fine arts professors who look down on illustration majors.
(2) As a subject of study, it feels like they're not willing to learn techniques like perspective, anatomy, etc.
There is no progress on actual learning. I think if you want to be truly creative, you should be willing to learn techniques and then seeing how to break them, so that you KNOW why something feels like X.
Instead it feels like they "look down" on it without ever trying it.
I think people have connected the "we are superior" vibe with the lack of development of skills and started to feel what this connection is called: pretentiousness.
Unfortunately people have also connected the actual art styles to that and dislike the works just because of the art style as well.
Abstractions of what? Surely to have an abstraction, you have to have a subject. If I'm drawing lines randomly, I'm not rendering an abstraction of anything.
For example, see abstract expressionism.
Unless you want to argue that any output you produce represents the abstraction of your brain's state (ie the random lines represent the firing of the neuronal pathways that are causing you to choose that specific arrangement of "random" lines), but that's pretty meta and outside what I think the common conception of abstract art is.
Which is (unintentionally, I presume) a subtle form of putting words into my mouth and then arguing against those instead.
I’ve seen kids frustrated because their “abstract art” didn’t look realistic enough and wanted an older kid or person to help them “draw better”.
This drawing predates any drawings (as opposed to etchings) we know from humans by tens of thousands of years -- even if it's a child's doodling, it displays a level of cognition previously dated to much more modern times.
Previous finds in Blombos Cave, 77,000-year-old ochre engravings (as opposed to drawings) showed the early evolution of modern behavior. This find, on the other hand, is a drawing, the oldest known finding of which was until now 40,000 years old.
I think in this context it means "it was abstract (and it proved they could think in abstracts)" and "it was for amusement not their daily struggles".
Not to diminish this find, but it doesn't demonstrate a pattern or show intent.
That they are calling this set of marks "art" tells me more about thier assumptions about ancient humans than about actual history. It is evidence of expression and the physical tools needed to create a record of that expression, tools common to many expressive forms. Art requires more.