© Walter McBride/Corbis
Since art is completely subjective, it's impossible to find a single work of art that everyone would agree is breathtaking, but you probably won't hear too many arguments against the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Michelangelo, the original Renaissance man, is regarded more often as a great sculptor even though his most famous work is arguably the vast fresco painting. Fresco is a challenging technique in which the artist paints on wet plaster, forming a bond causing the paint to actually become part of the surface. The Italian painter, sculptor and poet (among other things) spent four years painting more than 400 figures above his head while standing, contrary to legend that he worked on his back. One great aspect of the ceiling is that you can stand just about anywhere underneath it and view a single, distinct work of art.
Upon completion of the arduous work, the great artist said, "After four tortured years, more than 400 over life-size figures, I felt as old and as weary as Jeremiah. I was only 37, yet friends did not recognize the old man I had become" [source: Ruehring].