In ancient art from Europe to India a particular artistic motif frequently appears: a male or female figure grabbing two wild creatures, one in each hand. These are the Master and Mistress of Animals.
The Darb-e Imam shrine in Iran contains an early and exciting example of non-periodic tiling that was only mathematically appreciated five hundred years later.
In World War I millions of troops sat in trenches for more than three and a half years. It was by turns terrifying and boring. To ignore one feeling and allay the other, they made art.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, why would you paint anything else? The eye miniature was one of the oddest trends in late 1700s art.
In the myth, Icarus flew too close to the sun on wings of wax and fell to his death. 16th century Dutch / Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder asked the question: what if no-one noticed?
M. C. Escher drew impossible objects – things that could not actually exist in three-dimensional space. But an Italian engraver named Giovanni Battista Piranesi was drawing them more than a hundred years earlier.
In 1573 the Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese painted a Last Supper that included drunken Germans, dogs, parrots, and dwarfs. He liked it, but the Inquisition had other ideas.
Some of the most inspired cartoonists of the 21st century all started off in a single studio space in Brooklyn: Pizza Island.
When the City of Oslo demolished Gustav Vigeland’s house, they offered him a new one. In exchange, he promised all of his future artwork to the city. For the next twenty years he created 212 remarkable sculptures.
In 1939, a geologist dug up mammoth-ivory fragments inside a cave in Germany. Two weeks later, World War II began and they were forgotten. The fragments were reconstructed later, and turned out to be the earliest art in the world.
The Droste effect describes art that contains itself. The name comes from a brand of Dutch cocoa – the label contained a picture of the tin and the label (which contained a picture of the tin) – but the effect dates back much further.
The Power of Women is a topos (“topic”) of medieval and Renaissance Western art that inverted traditional gender roles. While most male painters saw this as comedy, prominent Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi turned it on its head and used her art to portray “courageous, rebellious, and powerful” women.
You’re a Renaissance artist. You have a very limited range of paint colours. How do you make shadows that aren’t muddy or too dark? Easy: you paint the shadows in a different colour.