Cave of Cap Blanc, sculpted approximately 15,000 years ago
Image credit Les-Eyzies Tourism
We are the luckiest people in human history. In the morning we can view 250 centuries of masterpieces in the Louvre and then after a few hours on a train to the Dordogne region in the Black Perigord, have our minds blown in the painted caves of pre-history, our jaws dropping at the skill and mastery of people who lived 10,000-40,000 years ago.
When I arrived in Les-Eyzies, which for those of you who are not familiar, is the town in which Cro-Magnon humans were first discovered, I was struck by a feeling of both joy and sadness at this fact. As I toured the caves in the region, a region so beautiful and abundant that is has enjoyed continuous human habitation for over 300,000 years, I was in awe at the skill of these ancient artists. They didn't just draw mammoths, they drew individual mammoths, each with its own personality. There's a sense of humor in the expressions of these beasts, a sense that they're trying to tell us something funny that happened out in the valley. The artists imbued their subjects with joy and you can feel that joy when you see their works in the caves. It brings you to tears.
We can visit these masterpieces, but what of humans who come 10,000 years from now? Almost everything we have done will be dust. The Louvre has had to move its masterpieces to save them from the Seine when it floods its banks. War and fire have destroyed how many precious works of art that we will never see. How will people know what we loved? What we revered? What we thought was beautiful?
At that moment, I realized what could be done. If there were a property in the region with a little house on it and a cave without any paintings or sculptings in it, I could start an non-profit and invite artists to come from all over the world to paint and sculpt on its walls. When my family passes from this earth as all families do, the property would cede to the people of France, with the proviso that it be be maintained in perpetuity as an on-going art project, a love letter to future generations.
It is with great happiness and excitement that I share with you that I have begun this endeavor. I am calling it The 10,000 Year Art Project. It is an arts non-profit and will solicit donations to purchase the property in the foundation's name. (While in the region I visited two real estate offices and was found two properties that would have worked. There are thousands of caves in the region, not all of which have paintings or sculptings in them and so I'm confident that obtaining a property with both a house and a cave is very doable.)
On December 31, 2017 I am moving to France for three months, longer if I can get a visa. I will be in place to continue to raise awareness of the project and look for the property with the cave and a house in this region where art was invented, so that I, with the help and support of the rest of humanity, can help continue this artistic tradition begun by our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago.
Not just a love letter to the future, The 10,000 Year Art Project is a message of hope to the people of the present day. No matter what we must endure now, there is a future in which we, our hopes and our dreams, are represented by the beauty of art.