In 2010, the Botín Foundation joined forces with New York’s Museum for African Art to prepare the exhibition Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria qwhich was shown in the halls of the British Museum of London that autumn. Today, this collaboration has been reciprocated: Ice Age Art: arrival of the modern mind was presented early this year at the British Museum, giving rise to the El Arte en la época de Altamira exhibit.

El arte en la época de Altamira brings the histories of art and humanity together. The exhibition is centred on the epoch of the famous cave art of Altamira. This was a virtual “renaissance” period in the Ice Age that meant the advent of new techniques, different styles and a characteristic range of decorative and figurative art. Sculptures and drawings of humans and animals dating from between 22,000 and 12,000 years ago, alongside other modern pieces by Miró, Matisse, Hecht and Pasmore, demonstrate that the techniques and concepts used have not changed much with the passage of time.

Thanks to their technical mastery, revolutionary skill and originality, these exceptional creations are now on display as great works of art in their own right within art history, rather than being considered solely archaeological objects. Moreover, the appearance of these objects is indicative of the advent of both the modern brain and the creative mind that supports it.

We extend a special thanks to the British Museum, to Jill Cook, and to the institutions that have made this magnificent exhibition possible: the Arthous Abbey and the National Museum of Prehistory (Les Eyzies) in France; the Halle and Weimar museums in Germany; and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Santander and Cantabria, the Prehistory and Archaeology Museum of Cantabria, the National Archaeology Museum of Madrid and the Archaeology Museum of Asturias in Spain; as well as the heirs of Joan Miró.

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