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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Element of the Month: Lead!

April's Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 207.2
Melting Point: 327.46 °C
Boiling Point: 1749 °C

I had two main questions about lead. The first was this: we've seen lots of elements now that are very hard to isolate because they don't appear in any concentration in nature. Why is it that other elements do appear in concentrated, or even pure, forms? Part of it must have to do with a certain level of resistance to chemical reactions with air and water, but what else is going on? Why might we, for instance, find here and there about the planet's surface extensive seams of galena, the mineral form of lead sulfide? After wandering around the various informational resources of the internet for a while, I've come to this conclusion: I don't really know. Geology was never my strong suit.

My other question was, "Why 'Pb'?" The answer there is that the Latin word for lead was plumbum.

As the heaviest non-radioactive element, Lead has always been popular when something heavy is wanted. It is also soft and maleable and has a very low melting point, which means it can be shaped easily. The Romans used it a lot, famously for their plumbing and less famously as a sort of soldering for iron in construction. They mined around 80 thousand metric tons of Lead a year, the Romans did, partly because it was useful in its own right and partly because it often hangs out with desireably shiny element Silver in nature. The Romans didn't think Lead was especially elemental, incidentally, and actually thought Lead and Tin were two different versions of the same basic thing.

The Centerfold!

A chunk of natural raw lead that somebody dug up somewhere!

After the collapse of Rome, lead production did like everything else and went into a steep decline, shrinking to virtually nothing before charging back to its previous level in the eighteenth century. We modern folks have the Romans beat 100-fold, although there are concerns that the world's supply could run out in, say, twenty to fifty years. However, since Lead is eminently recycleable and often used in applications where more common stuff would do just as well, it is probably not the most critical materials crisis you could be fretting over.

You probably know that lead used to be used in a carefree fashion in housepaints and as a gasoline additive, which exposed a couple of generations to a nasty level of environmental contamination. There's a lot less lead around to be casually inhaled and ingested these days, and this is universally held to be a good thing.  There is also a school of thought holding that environmental lead toxicity was the source of pretty much all the social ills of the the 1970s and 1980s. It's a bit silly, of course, but then most big theories are somewhat daft in their pure forms. Maybe there's a little something to this one.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Second-Round Elimination GRUDGE MATCH: del Cossa v. Courbet!

Back in 'aught twelve, Gustave Courbet beat Francesco del Cossa 8-4 in the First Round. Yet del Cossa's longing for revenge, or perhaps the votes of his admirers, has kept him alive in the Left Bracket as he gathered up wins over reputable artists like Correggio and Cranach the Elder. Courbet, meanwhile, lost to Corot in the Second Round before coming back to lay a painful beating on Aelbert Cuyp. Cranach the Elder and Cuyp both leave the tournament with records of 1-2, Cranach with a handsome total cumulative vote total of 20 for, 19 against, and Cuyp with a very respectable 17 for, 20 against.

OMG IT'S A GRUDGE MATCH!!! Will del Cossa manage to get his terrible revenge this time around? It could happen! Turnover in the voting pool, new images, and of course the steadily increasing sophistication of all our artistic tastes might reshuffle the deck in his favor. Remember, he has to win outright to stay alive; in the event of a tie a Grudge Match goes to the previous winner.

Francesco del Cossa
c.1435 - c.1478

Gustave Courbet
1819 - 1877
  • Defeated 15th Century Italian Francesco Del Cossa after a see-saw battle in Round 1.
  • Lost to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, a guy from the previous generation, in Round 2.
  • Stampeded Aelbert Cuyp in the Left Bracket Second Round.

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.