The ARTIST’S EYE: Figurines of the Paleolithic 

This exhibition at Yale’s Peabody Museum, which ran from August 11, 2018 to March 17, 2019, celebrated the so-called “Venus” figures.  Created by Cro-Magnon hunters and gatherers between 40,000 and 15,000 BCE, these are the first three-dimensional representations of the female form ever discovered.

Ranging in size from 1.4 to 8.9 inches, most of the figures were carved from soft stone, bone and ivory, or formed from clay and fired.  Replicating them in bronze and polymer, Kavanagh enlarged the figures and placed them in fantasy sea shells, long associated in art historical contexts with birth and regeneration.

Kavanagh produced 12 goddess figures for the exhibition.  They include the goddess of Hohle Fels, the earliest known work of figurative sculpture in the world, and the goddess of Dolní Vêstonice, the earliest known ceramic.

artist eye
artist eye
artist eye
cornelia kavanagh
artist eye

Click on individual sculptures below to compare them with the artifacts that inspired them:

CLICK HERE to read an essay by Stephanie Grilli, PhD, who places the sculptures in an art historical context.

CLICK HERE for a brief summary of climate conditions during the Ice Age.