First, let me tell you about a curious incident regarding Picasso, from the time when one of my sons was about 3 years old. A traveling exhibition came to town, a showing of Picasso art, and we went and took the kids. We had two at the time, two boys, seven and three.
The line of people passed by the paintings hanging on the wall behind the rope, puzzling over the cubist creations. We would look at the painting, then peer at the small card telling us what it was. Then our three-year-old started piping up. I don’t remember the exact paintings we saw, but it went something like this, for instance.
“Dere’s a lady,” he would say and the title would be “Ma Jolie” My Pretty Girl.
“Dey habbing a picnic.” That would be for “Luncheon on the Grass.”
This went on and people started to notice our little savant. Pretty soon, everyone was waiting for him to tell us what the paintings were. He didn’t have years of culture and conditioning and standardization to get in the way of his understanding of Picasso’s primitive meanings. He immediately understood each painting, even though none of the adults could.
Now, on to cave art.
I recently learned of a book about some 32 symbols found in Ice Age caves, symbols widely used in many places. The theory is that everyone must have understood what they stood for, but their meanings are mostly lost today. I ordered the book, The First Signsby Genevieve Von Petzinger.
So, here’s my solution. I have the book. All we need to do is to find a three year old to tell us what they mean. We’ll never discover it for ourselves.
photos from https://learnodo-newtonic.com/pablo-picasso-famous-paintings
symbols from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230990-700-in-search-of-the-very-first-coded-symbols/