I have my students go on a scavenger hunt - put up several reproductions and a list of things to find. Or, put up one painting and have them see who can come up with the most objects that can be seen in the painting.
I like to break up the info into smaller chunks, and include children's books whenever possible. It is amazing how even the most jaded high schooler will sit and listen quietly to a picture book - I usually open with a "just humor me on this, ok?". Picasso can be introduced with "When Pigasso met Mootisse", VanGogh has several books written about him, and more books about different artists are coming out all the time. I am planning on sharing several of these with my high school students and having them write and illustrate some children's books about different artists. Paul Harvey always has interesting tidbits about different artists - does anyone know if there is anyway to read his commentaries? Students love the gossip and memorable stories about artists - I like the book "Artists, their lives and what the neighbors thought" (someone help me out on the correct title on this one!).
K-12 Kansas Art Teacher