The little figure of a woman, no more than 11,5cm high, found in Willendorf in Austria, is the most striking and famous of these first works of art. It is between 25,000-30,000 years old, carved out of limestone, and seems originally to have been covered with pigments, of which traces remain. The exaggerated rotundity of the body has a yielding fleshiness, felt rather than seen. The hands resting on the breasts, the arms and the lower legs are no more than sketchily indicated and the woman has no face. Tiny curls of hair cover the entire head. There can be little doubt that she was carved as an image of fertility, probably as some kind of magic charm, perhaps to be held in the hand. Other female figures, which are dated slightly later similarly emphasize the breasts, belly and buttocks, and in one instance, the remarkable Woman from Lespugne, they are almost completely abstracted into an organic geometry of cones, ovoid and spheres. Sometimes only part of the body is represented – the breasts in ivory carvings found at Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic; well-defined belly and things in a stone carving from Tursac in the Dordogne, France; and numerous vulvae engraved on rock-faces in the Dordogne in about 25,000 BC. In a strange sandstone figure of about the same date, found at Chiozza in Italy, the female form, again without feet, is combined with a faceless head like the trip of a phallus as if to unity the generative organs of the two genders into a single image. Sex and art would seem to have been closely allied from the very beginning.
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