Tondo

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Circular paintings and relief sculptures. Most recently popularized by Damien Hirst, the tondo was used as early as Greek antiquity to depict mythological scenes on pottery. The form became prevalent in Renaissance Italy through works by artists like Raphael and Michelangelo. Inspired by the painted trays traditionally presented to pregnant women, these tondi often depicted Bible stories and images of the Madonna and Child. The round panel or canvas put forth an alternate set of compositional concerns from those established by Leon Battista Alberti, who wrote that rectangular painting is essential for pictorial perspective. Abstract and figurative painters in various movements since have used the tondo to complement their work on rectangular canvases, from Caravaggio to Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Sol LeWitt.

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