Lecture explores ancient cave art with artist George Johanson

by University Communications,

Portland Oregon artist George Johanson will present a free illustrated lecture entitled An Artist Looks at Ice Age Art on April 6 at 2 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

In 2007, Johanson was impressed and inspired by his visit to a series of caves in France that included Lascaux II, Rouffignac and Pech Merle. The caves are renowned for their beautifully rendered horses, aurochs, stags, bison, humans and abstract symbols that date back to between 13,000 and 32,000 years ago.

In the lecture, Johanson will share his insights on these caves, as well as others found in France and Spain. Why are these images from long ago so compelling? Why was this art placed deep in caves in areas that were difficult to access? What does this art tells us about prehistoric life and these ancient artists, and what does it reveal about ourselves and today’s art?

Johanson wrote and illustrated a 105 page book of reflections entitled An Artist Looks at Ice Age Art which will be available at the talk.

Professor Emeritus and Senior Faculty Curator Roger Hull commented on the book, saying “George Johanson’s deep appreciation of the cave art is very evident, and his explanations and descriptions are vivid, easy to understand, and informative. I love the painting on the cover and the whole idea of the project, which combines all his identities — artist, thinker, reader/scholar, traveler.”

Johanson’s In the Cave (2011; oil on canvas), is pictured on the front cover of the book and the original will be on view in the Carl Hall Gallery at the museum. Inspired by a photograph taken in 1906, his painting depicts a group of paleontologists that includes Abbé Henri Breuil and Émile Cartailhac who were known for their studies of cave art.

About the Artist
Johanson is a well known Portland, Oregon painter and printmaker. He began attending the Museum Art School (MAS) in Portland in 1946 and was instructed by William Givler, Louis Bunce, and Jack McLarty. Later, after spending time in New York, Mexico, and London he returned to Oregon and became a professor at MAS in 1955 (now known as the Pacific Northwest College of Art), and retired in 1980. Johanson’s work can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and many additional museums and collections.

Financial Support
Financial support for this lecture has been provided by general operating support grants from the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission.