THE THRILLING SPIRIT OF ART!

My one time editor at Abrams, Susan Van Metre, was once kind enough, before her metamorphosis, to pass on a sort of commission, doing the picture book of the Pixar movie – Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. It was not my story and I didn’t reap any huge benefits, certainly no royalties, but liked the artist who did the drawings, William Maughan, and going into Pixar too for a screening in London. It tells of a stallion, caught up in the ‘modern world’ of the Iron Horse, the American railway, and finding his freedom among native American Indians, and other wild horses, especially a lady. Many times readers of my animal fantasies have asked if I would write a novel involving horses, and while I love riding, I was also rather obsessed with Black Beauty as a boy. Very girly, I know, but it must have been the music, and you never know.

But a horse came up in a TV programme recently that so astounded, it must be blogged. It highlights so much of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ guff that surrounds much modern and conceptual art, since Marcel Duchamp didn’t sit on his loo seat. I don’t for a moment mean the kind of work and ideas so brilliantly expressed in Philip Mount’s paintings and cultural ‘short story’, below, I mean the Neanderthal triumph of rubbish, and it’s orchestrated victory in the world of money. But if you want to know something of man, art, and the human mind too, then just take a look at a little piece of carved horse bone. The picture below is badly lit, so doesn’t capture the effect of the cross-hair mane, scratched at the top, but does catch the astoundingly simple line, the clarity of perception, the realism, and movement in the running creature too. The simple point is this, as art looks back at us in wonder at what we are – the ‘Ochre Horse’, found in Crewsell’s limestone gorge in 1876, and now housed in very industrial Sheffield, is thirteen thousand years old. DCD

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