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September 05, 1993|M.M. Harris

LASCAUX, France — Archeologists who discovered strange new cave paintings here earlier this year say they may have pieced together the significance of their find.

The paintings are in an isolated cave whose entrance had been hidden by a pile of rocks. Instead of the scenes of Cro-Magnon hunters and animals that adorn the other famous caves at Lascaux, the walls of this chamber display squiggles, geometric shapes and grotesque, semi-abstract renderings of the human form.

The prehistoric artist was "like an ur- Matisse," said Pierre St. Pierre, leader of the team that examined the paintings. "Or, perhaps, like Federico Fellini, if he made drawings to prepare for one of his films."

On the floor of the cave was a skeleton with a hole bashed in its skull.

Archeologists have come up with the following scenario:

The artist (named, let's say, Og) was different. He daubed his face in lurid colors. His hair, unheard of for a Cro-Magnon, was short. He wore his furs with an indefinable but infuriating panache.

Og's painting, too, was different. His deer looked more like hippopotamuses, of which none existed in France. His fertility goddesses inflamed ribald passions.

The Cave Painters Guild finally kicked him out. Unabashed, Og said: "I'll paint my own cave."

But when a conservative colleague (call him Zark) happened by and looked over Og's shoulder, he was appalled.

One glance at what Og had painted spoke to Zark of ruinous change, the toppling of life's lichen-spotted milestones, the withering of familiar values. He foresaw Greece and Rome, Impressionism and Cubism, Dada, Andy Warhol's soup cans, "The Simpsons."

"People," he gasped, "will no longer worship the great hairy mammoth!"

"Haven't you noticed," Og replied coolly, "that great hairy mammoths have gotten a little scarce since the ice went away?"

Zark groped for a more sophisticated argument. This wasn't easy for him. "We've painted the same way for many generations," he said, "and we've gotten really good at it. If individual artists go off and paint any which way, they will never be more than beginners."

"Fiddle-de-dee," Og said.

Blind rage came more naturally. The Zarks of this world are well endowed with muscle. One blow of his knotted oak club did the trick.

In the flash that preceded his annihilation, Og saw that portraits by Dianna Cohen, paintings by Jimi Gleason and sculpture by Richard Stein will be exhibited in "Tre Colore" at The Apartment-House gallery, 709 Iliff St., Pacific Palisades, from Thursday (when a reception is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m.) through Oct. 21. Information: (310) 276-7427.

At last, he thought, a welcome for emerging artists!

And Og saw that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, will exhibit pre-production drawings by 13 movie directors, along with the same scenes on film, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Oct. 17. Information: (310) 247-3000. The directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton--and Fellini.

Just like me! Og thought.

Then there was only Zark piling rocks and chuckling: "That's the end of that. "

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