Daily Telegraph (Souren Melekian)
How art begins is one of mankind’s greatest enigmas to which an answer has yet to be found.
If there is any hope of discovering the process out of which it emerges, ancient Egypt might be the place that will yield some clues.
The admirable show, “Dawn of Egyptian Art,” put together at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Diana Craig Patch, reveals a world of seething artistic creation headed in multiple directions. Much of it bears no recognizable connection to the statuary and objects from Egypt under its historic dynasties.
The most startling revelation is the simultaneous existence by the end of the fourth millennium B.C. of pure abstraction, highly stylized figuration and representational art close to nature.
All three trends are occasionally observed side by side on a single object.
A large earthenware vessel from Naqada, a site north of Luxor in Upper Egypt, is thus painted with some abstract motifs above a group of simplified human figures. Around and below them, desert goats are accurately rendered with their characteristic twisted horns. The vessel was created around 3300-3200 B.C.
During the centuries that preceded it, Egyptian artists had been exploring radically different avenues.