A $67 million complex near the Chauvet will include a nearly football-field-size replica of the most remarkable panels in the original, along with a multimedia center and an exposition hall.
Meet Gilles Tosello, one the artists who will be charged with the recreation of the Great Panel in the replica. He was not simply retracing the original images: He was drawing them freehand to maintain their natural, intuitive look. He had to try to inhabit the ancient artist’s mind and comprehend the techniques and feelings that had led to these masterpieces so long ago.
Using metal rods and troweled-on mortar, workers meticulously re-create the walls of the original cave:
France’s Lascaux and northern Spain’s Altamira, the other acknowledged gems of ancient cave art, have illustrated, painfully, the damage millions of visitors can inflict. Though Lascaux has been closed since 1963, it still suffers from infestations of lichen and black mold that are thought to be linked to the presence of visitors. Altamira, though reopened to very small groups in February 2014, had been closed to the public in 1977 because the carbon dioxide in the exhalations of a century’s worth of visitors had deteriorated the cave’s colorful renderings.