El Anatsui (b. 1944) is a Nigerian artist who creates beautiful, tapestry-like works out of found materials like bottle caps and scrap metal. I've been lucky enough to see his work at a few different museums.
I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that Thomas Cole's work is on my list of art that inspires me. To talk about why I love Cole's work in general, I would probably have to write a whole book, so I'm going to focus on one particular painting that I recently saw for the first time. It's called A Snow Squall, and it was painted in 1825.
Continuing with my earlier theme of art that inspires me, here is another example from the ancient world. During Egypt's Roman period (c. 30 BCE - 330 CE), many beautiful portraits were made in and around the area of Faiyum. They were mummy portraits, which means that they were attached to mummy wrappings to cover the mummy's head.
One type of art I've always loved is ancient Cycladic figurines. These little marble figures have been found on the Aegean islands of the Cyclades and were created in ancient times. They depict human figures and can be found in most major museums.