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 Stone Age Origin of Art: What, When, Where, Why and by Whom?

18 January 2017

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

Video recording available here





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

25 January 2017

Dr Jill Cook, Curator of European Prehistory, British Museum

Video recording available here





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

15 February 2017

Professor Paul Pettitt, Department of Archaeology, Durham University

Video recording available here soon



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

8 March 2017

Dr Maria Guagnin, Department of Archaeology, University of Oxford

Video recording available here soon



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

22 March 2017

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

Video recording available here



Early Faces

29 March 2017

Professor Ludwig Morenz, Department of Egyptology, University of Bonn

Video recording available here