The Origins of Art

A Free Public Lecture Series

Recent discoveries have pushed the boundaries of art making into unimaginable depths of time and across diverse geographies bringing to light the crucial role of images in the cognitive development of the human mind. Taking up Aby Warburg’s lead in the questioning of the formations and fundamental principles of image making and its cultural values, this lecture series seeks to explore the origins of art from a cross-disciplinary perspective.

Six leading experts will share their research on prehistoric art, from climate change to early faces, asking fundamental questions that should porve fruitful for all researchers. The Origins of Art speaks to an interdisciplinary audience who are interested in thinking about art in the widest possible sense and the theoretical implications this has for visual culture of all ages.

The Origins of Art lecture series is organised by the Warburg Institute's Joanne Anderson and Hans-Christian Hönes as part of the Warburg Institute's commitment to public scholarship and collaboration.

The lectures are free of charge and take place in the Lecture Room at the Warburg Institute. There is a reception after each lecture. Please register in advance via:


The lectures will take place at 6pm in the Warburg Lecture Room on the following dates:
 18 Jan       The Stone Age Origin of Art: What, When, Where, Why and by Whom?

       Professor Steve Mithen, Professor of Early Prehistory and Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Reading


 25 Jan       The Shock of the Old. Art in the European Ice Age

       Dr Jill Cook, Curator of European Prehistory, British Museum







 15 Feb      Human Art: The First 30,000 years. New Perspectives on Palaeolithic Cave Art and the First Known Images

        Professor Paul Pettitt, Department of Archaeology, Durham University




8 Mar       Environment versus culture: Rock art in the context of Holocene climatic change

    Dr Maria Guagnin, Department of Archaeology, University of Oxford




 22 Mar     The Origin of Symbolic Material Culture. What does the Archaeological Record say?

        Professor Francesco d’Errico, CNRS Director of Research, University of Bordeaux


 29 Mar     Early Faces

        Professor Ludwig Morenz, Department of Egyptology, University of Bonn