Your comment brings to mind something I’ve asked Sunken_civ before.
Where are all the bad artworks from the past?
Seriously, it seems that we only find stuff that actually looks decent. Not the best mind you, but at least a fair representation of the subject.
Where are all the “trail and errors” of aspiring artists?
You would think there would be more bad stuff than good.
Everybody’s a critic......
Being a subsistence based society, I think they would only have kept the good items and recycled the rest into bone/horn needles etc...
Very much like canvases in the Renaissance being reused.
It’s analogous to that line in Shakespeare — “treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? If it prosper, none dare call it treason,” iow, it’s around but unrecognized.
Leaving aside the sheer rarity of really old artifacts made out of something other than stone, stuff that may have been considered art, or at least gayed-up toolwork, got used until it wore off, perhaps precisely because it wasn’t considered worth preserving, or wasn’t made just for decoration but instead as a sort of good luck charm on the hunt. Anything considered exceptionally nice might have been spared, or might have been extra strong mojo.
My view is, many of the oldest tools (fire, watercraft) probably came about due to the un- or semi-supervised activities of adolescents and preadolescents. In that scenario, “art” was so commonplace as to be trivial, and just as with surviving primitive cultures covered everything. And most primitive art isn’t exactly Rembrandt.
‘Oldest Sculpture’ Found In Morocco (400K Years Old)
Is this the world’s oldest statue? [Anatolia, Gobekli Tepe]