PRINT October 1970

A Conversation with Nancy Graves

CERTAIN NOTIONS OF PRIMITIVE religion and the origins of art are pertinent to a consideration of Nancy Graves’ thinking. The development of her work attempts to focus away from a traditionally Western, analytical logic of form, and to lead back toward the pre-logical and archaeological sources of conceiving, perceiving and making. Among the early hunting cultures, art arose specifically from the links between finding and making. The most archaic cave paintings from Lascaux and Altamira are intimately related to the actual contours of the rock walls on which they are painted. Conceptually, they stem from the need to encourage success in hunting—that is, from coercive magic. This reveals the fundamental difference between representation as a purely naturalistic, “matching” attempt (a post-Medieval and Western attitude about art forms) and symbolizing, within a context where the pictures of

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