Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Klee v. Klein!

Paul Klee
1879 - 1940


Yves Klein
1928 - 1962


Vote for the artist of your choice! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Saint of the Month: Saint Wicterp of Augsburg!

St. Wicterp of Augsburg

AKA: Wigbert, Wiho, Wicho, Wicbpert

Feast Day: April 18.

Really Existed? Yes.
Timeframe: The Eighth Century. The saint lists have him dying in 749, but this probably needs to be looked at.
Place: The area that would eventually be called "Germany."

Credentials: Recognized by tradition.
Martyrdom: None.

Patron Saint of: No known tradition of patronage.
Symbolism: No known artistic tradition or image.

After Saint Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day, there’s no point in pretending we aren’t on a somewhat subdued level today, on Saint Wicterp of Augsburg’s Day. Saint Wicterp doesn’t ever attract a lot of attention, as far as I’ve noticed. I wonder whether having his feast day fall on Good Friday brings him any extra attention, or just overshadows him completely. Some things are hard to measure.

Your standard catalog of saints picks up Wicterp’s fragmentary biography when he is abbot of Ellwangen, which according to a major open-source online encyclopedia was an important German monastery from its founding in 764 through the fifteenth century. Ellwangen's founding date of 764 is a troubling detail in the historical record, since Wicterp is supposed to have died in 749. (although I’ve found one reference saying that he “was bishop about 739 or 768.”)

From The Biographical Index of the Middle Ages.  "749?" indeed. 

 During his tenure at Ellwangen, St. Wicterp is said to have been a major player in the foundation of additional important abbeys at Füssen, Wessobrünn, and Kempten. I made the mistake of looking up the conventional dates when these abbeys were founded, and see that Füssen is dated to the early 800s, Wessobrünn to 753, and Kempten to “about 700.”  Two were founded after St. Wicterp’s death, in other words, and the other well before his working life began.

Frankly, it is going to take a hagiographer with actual credentials to sort this all out.

“Eventually,” or “later,” Wicterp was elected to the bishopric of Augsburg. That’s about all the standard histories have to say about it.

I found an footnote, however, that suggests that St. Wicterp might be a quietly important figure in the history of European music.

From The Monks of the West, 1872.
I also found a survey of the history of European coins that, although it only mentions St. Wicterp in passing, is a fun illustration of how history can take on strange textures if you look at it through the lens of a specific interest.

"approx. 738 - before 772"???  Where's a medieval historian when you actually need one?!
 May I be the first to wish you and your family a happy, healthy Saint Wicterp of Augsburg's Day?  I bet I can!  Since there are no established traditions (chocolate hearts, green beer) for the day, I encourage you to suggest new ones in the comments!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament Second-Round Elimination: Giorgione v. Giulio Romano!

Leaving the Tournament this week are two guys who could beat Gilbert and George, but who lost their other two matches. Both Giambologna and Harold Gilman get leave us with records of 1-2, Giambologna (14 cumulative votes for, 20 against) falling to Giorgione and Gilman (14-23) overpowered by Giulio Romano.

The other thing that Giorgione and Giulio Romano have in common, besides Italian heritage, the years 1492 to 1510 (Giorgione was a grown-up, Giulio Romano was a kid), and haven beaten the guys who beat Gilbert and George, is that they are the two artists that Giotto beat on the way to his Third Round match with Giacometti. The old-school Florentine beat Giulio Romano 8-3 and Giorgione 6-4. Do those numbers imply that Giorgione has a big edge in this contest? If you've watched Tournament results for long, you'll know that it doesn't always work like that!

c. 1477 - 1510
  • Beat Luca Giordano by a two-vote spread in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!
  • Lost to Giotto in Round 2 by a two-vote spread. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!
  • Beat sculptor Giambologna in the Left Bracket Second Round by several votes. Which is not to say that your vote doesn't count.

Giulio Romano
1492 - 1546

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting, but likely much longer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Wednesday Post

Bye-Bye, Batoni
Five artists send postcards from beyond the Tournament.

Pompeo Batoni lost to Jacopo Bassano, beat Georg Baselitz, but fell to Frederic Bazille, leaving the Tournament on November 24, 2012.

Return of the Prodigal Son (1773)

Gentile Bellini lost to Max Beckmann in the First Round, beat Willi Baumeister and then Bassano in the Left Bracket, but then did like Batoni and got ousted by Frederic Bazille on February 10, 2013.

Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of S. Lorenzo (1500)

Bernando Bellotto -- Canaletto's nephew and student who, being no fool, used the trade name "Canaletto," lost to George Bellows in the First Round, beat Bellmer on his second outing, and then fell to Bierstadt to leave the Tournament November 24, 2012.

Paris Bordone was beaten by Hieronymus Bosch and then David Bomberg to go two-and-out on November 4, 2012.

The Venetian Lovers (1525-30)

Antoine Bourdelle lost to Louise Bourgeois and Dieric Bouts, leaving the Tournament on January 3, 2013.

Hercules the Archer (1909)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 3: Hals v. Hassam

Frans Hals
1581 - 1666

Outpaced American Philip Guston Round 1.
Edged out the great Dane Wilhelm Hammershoi in Round 2 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!

Childe Hassam
1859 - 1935

Outlasted Hans Hartung in a close Round 1 contest.
Moved easily past Barbara Hepworth in Round 2.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Avatar Spouts Off Every 91 Minutes

Yes, it's another Avatar post already.  I've been yakking about the hypothetical cross-country journey pretty hard lately, but the truth of the matter is that he is somewhere that is an awfully long ways from anywhere else.  When I filed his quarterly report, I was all thinking "all he has to do is zip across Wyoming, and then he'll be back in a settled part of the world with occasional towns and everything!"  But one doesn't really zip across Wyoming.  276 miles north to south, 365 miles east to west, it is a big big state, and its towns don't really reach the threshold of "occasional."  It is, you know, the 50th most populous state.

So the Avatar is very excited to be in a well-known place, resting for a day and watching the regular belching of thousands of gallons of water out of the Earth's crust!  Because he is at Old Faithful.

If I had a ton of grant money at my disposal and free reign in time, I would fetch Cuyp, Canaletto, and -- seasonally -- Avercamp up to Yellowstone to see what they could do with the iconic geyser.  I might also do feasibility talks with Christo for a short-term installation project to be called "Water Balloon."

For the nonce, though, we'll have to be satisfied with those artist that have actually made it up to northwestern Wyoming.  The great American landscape painter Bierstadt, for instance.

Or the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams:

Or, here's an unexpected treat: the National Geographic people brought Play-In artist Abelardo Morrel up to Old Faithful to see what he could do with his camera obscura.  So, here's a photographic image of the geyser (and its perennial ring of fans) projected onto the Yellowstone soil.

OK!  Only 200 miles to the next town!

Lander -- or maybe Riverton -- here I come!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Kirchner v. Kitaj!

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
1880 - 1938
German; worked in Switzerland


R B Kitaj
1932 - 2007
American; worked in Britain


Vote for the artist of your choice! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.