The enormous number of the figures in the Parthenon, probably exceeding 500, of which 50 were colossal, and the size and complexity of the Athene, which was of gold, ivory, wood, and precious stones, standing 40 feet in height, make it impossible that these vast works could have been executed by the hand of a single artist. But Phidias is universally spoken of as the designer and presiding genius of the entire decoration; and, although some of the metopes are probably of an earlier school, the colossal groups of the pediments and the whole of the frieze have the stamp of one master mind.
While studying at the Academy of Ancient Art in the Medici Palace, Michelangelo not only developed his genius as a sculptor, but also excited the wrath of his rival, Torregiano, who struck him with a mallet, crushing the nose on his face and disfiguring him for life.
"The Son of Man" came about from a friend's request for a self-portrait of Rene Magritte whose comment on it was that, "Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." The painting depicts a man whose face is obscured by a piece of fruit.
Lysippus of Sicyon, in the Peloponnese, was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, who made him his court sculptor, decreeing that no one should paint his portrait but Apelles, and no one should make his statue but Lysippus. His works were all in bronze, and are said to have amounted to 1,500 in number. They represented Alexander and his generals in various characters, Hercules in many aspects, and celebrated athletes of the most naturalistic type.
Frida Kahlo--who began painting while recovering from a serious road accident at the age of 15--sent her early work to the painter Diego Rivera, whom she later married. Her works are often shocking in their stark portrayal of pain and the harsh lives of women.
"Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" was the most famous painting of Georges Seurat, founder of the 19th-century French school of Neo-Impressionism whose technique for portraying the play of light using tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colours became known as Pointillism. This painting inspired a Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim entitled Sunday in the Park With George.
Yoko Ono helped to define the Fluxus movement which emerged in New York in the 60's. Part Dada, part Bauhaus and part Zen, the new aesthetic presumed that all media and all artistic disciplines were fair game for combination and fusion. Fluxus objects and performances are characterized by minimalist but often expansive gestures which often contain heavy doses of burlesque.
Edvard Munch painted "The Scream" after a walk with two friends during which he sensed an "endless scream passing through nature". To describe this experience, he developed an exciting, violent, and emotionally charged style that is recognized by most critics as leading to the birth of German Expressionism.
The Dada school of art, or Dadaism, can be traced back to Zürich and the poetry of Romanian-born Tristan Tzara. Born out of the widespread disillusionment created by World War I, Dada attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. The principles of Dada were eventually modified to become the basis of surrealism.
Edgar Degas is acknowledged as the master of drawing human figures in motion. In the early 1870s, the female ballet dancer became his favorite theme. He sketched from a live model in his studio and combined poses into groupings that depicted rehearsal and performance scenes. Although he worked in many mediums, he preferred pastels to all others.