STUDY GUIDE AP Art History Test #1
Venus of Willendorf
Willendorf is a place in Germany. Sometimes just called the Woman of Willendorf, this sculpture is actually small enough to be carried around in yourhand. Her body is obviously plump, probably because if there are problems with the conditions in which you live, i.e. very little food, then those with morefat will be able to survive in drought or cold winters as opposed to those areskinny. It could also be a sign of fertility, or it may be a way of saying we needto guarantee a way that humans will reproduce—it was a time when human life wasn’t taken likely. In Paleolithic art in general, there is a preoccupation with women, whose child-bearing capabilities ensured the survival of the species.There are traces of paint on this so the artist carved it and also decorated it withcolor of some sort. This piece would obviously not stand up, so it probably hadsome magical significance and purpose because of the size. As with mostPaleolithic figures, there are no facial features. There is either curly hair or ahat women from plant fibers.
Woman with Horn
The Laussel woman is one of the earliest relief sculptures known. The subjectmatter is similar with a figure of pretty much the same proportions. It seems likeshe’s split down the middle with her but on both sides. She has a large belly, large breasts, the hand is a little more carefully defined, and an arm in front, and she’sholding a horn. The horn is another symbol of fertility because it was a sign of male animal fertility (most male animals at this time at horns). Even now, werelate cornucopia with Thanksgiving with the straw basket and fruit flowing out,etc. Some scholars think it looks like something else, though. A moon crescent. We don’t know if they were sophisticated enough to know about women andperiods, but it could be another symbol of fertility.So remember this is carved into the stone; it’s not a 3-D piece to be carriedaround and so is larger.
This is a bison modeled in clay and laid down in the grown. Over itsthousands of years in existence, it’s hardened, but originally was modeled by hand in clay. It shows that artist was good at observing these creatures:it has hair, eye, ear, mane, a hump, and a little tail with legs in the rightplace.It’s interesting that the first sculptures we found were of humans becausehumans play little to no role/representation in Paleolithic paintings.
This is another material used in sculpture. This is bone. Probably an antler of a bison. It’s in fairly good condition, but the legs are likely broken off a little bit. There are horns, a vein on back of head, and what is a wonderful detail is that there is a little tongue sticking out. Have to imagine that this is acreature out in the field and it’s been bitten, so he has his head turned to look. The artist’s observation is a wonderful thing—he’s seen something and reproduced it.