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Inside the cave, outside the discipline

ByCatharina Gabrielsson

In The Eternal Present: The Beginnings of Art, published in 1962, Sigfried Giedion

writes on parietal art or cave art. Although we ‘are free to interpret the fantastic forms

occurring in these caverns as cathedrals, galleries, chapels’, he writes, ‘these

sequences of forms, sometimes sharply defined, sometimes utterly amorphous, are

not architecture’ (Giedion 1962: 526). He insists: these spaces are not architecture,

because architecture is man-made, architecture – as a spatial art – depends on light,

and the darkness of the caves eliminates space. Giedion admits that spatial perception

is not entirely visual, that it also involves touch and hearing (which, incidentally, is

considered crucially important in many current accounts of these caves)1 – he even,

habitually, quotes Le Corbusier to underline the acoustic significance of space – never-

theless, Giedion maintains that these spaces are not architecture.