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29 January 2016
Artists complete replica of Lascaux cave paintings

Three years of work has gone into creating a true-to-life replica of renowned Stone Age cave paintings in southwestern France, and the 46 segments are ready to be transported and installed in a hillside near the original site in Montignac, in the Dordogne, about 500 kilometres south-southwest of Paris. The International Centre of Parital Art, 150 metres long and 9 metres high, will open by the end of the year.
     The original cave, discovered in 1940 and closed to the public since 1963, contains nearly 2,000 Upper Palaeolithic wall paintings depicting rhinos, horses, bison, deer and panthers - Europe's most important collection of prehistoric art, by the oldest known modern humans, who came to Europe from Africa via Asia.
     A limited set of reproductions have been on display since 1983. The 57 million-euro project to replicate the entire set unites technology with a desire for the utmost authenticity.
     Francis Ringenbach, the artistic director of the project and himself a sculptor, says the need to be as faithful as possible to the original slowed the team down. "Sometimes one has to spend hours reproducing just 10 square centimetres," he says.
     The artists benefitted from 3D digital scans of the original paintings that were projected onto the walls, creating a task akin to using tracing paper as they applied layer upon layer of natural pigments. Chief painter Gilles Lafleur said of the original works: "We try to understand them really, to understand how and why they were painted this way," but admits that "time has taken its toll and these animals don't look the way they would have when they were painted."
     Ringenbach says that where the smaller-scale original museum offered limited insight into the site's significance, "here, we reach a whole new level in terms of helping people to understand what Lascaux represents for science, the history of art, prehistory."

Edited from NDTV (19 January 2016)

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