Friday, April 20, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament: State of Play

Heavens!  Time flies, doesn’t it, and as of tomorrow we are already 1/16th of the way through the first round of the so-called “Infinite Art Tournament!”  At this rate, we’ll have burned through the tournament already by the fall of 2021!  Well, through the first round anyway.  Those of you who just can’t wait to see Jean-Antoine Watteau make his way through the brackets will, to be sure, still have to sit on your thumbs for a while yet.

Here’s the state of play so far!

As you can see, we’ve evolved a nice, standard double-elimination tournament system.  As long as an artist keeps winning, he or she continues advancing in the right-hand bracket.  After you’ve lost once, you go head to head against other artists who have lost once, and the winner “stays alive” in the left hand bracket.  

And here are the details for bracket dorks [non-bracket dorks may advance to “Play-In Artists,” below]:


  • First-round losers go immediately into an “elimination” round.  One-quarter of the field – 254 artists – will go 0-2 and out.  This is the only round where the face-offs are two-at-a-time. 
  • Winners of the losers’ bracket first round will go up against losers of the winners’ bracket second round – a 1-1 artist vs. a 1-1 artist.  This will eliminate another 254 artists with 1-2 records.
  • Neighboring pairs of second-round losers switch places when moving into the left-hand bracket to avoid repetitive pairings.  Algardi beat Allston in the very first match of the tournament, for instance, but then lost to Agasse in the second round.  If Allston ends up beating Albers in the losers’ bracket first round, then that would already pit Allston and Algardi against each other a second time, scarcely half a year later.  So, Algardi will take on the winner of Alma-Tadema/Amigoni instead, “switching” with Andre, who lost to Altdorfer in round two and so takes on the winner of Allston/Albers.  After the second round, though, it’s possible that old opponents may meet for a rematch.
  • Ties don’t advance, but are put on hold to either (1) match up against play-in artists (see below) in the first round, or (2) to switch off against other tied pairings.  Fra Angelico and Anguissola have tied in the second round, for instance, and let us say that Bazille and Beckmann were to tie as well.  In that case, the good Fra would take on Beckman in the upper of the two bracket positions, and Anguissola would take on Bazille in the lower.   
  • Once an artist has won the third round, he or she will get to enjoy the glory for a few years as new artists continually play in through the first round and the left-hand bracket sorts itself out.

Play-In Artists

“This is all fine and good,” some of you are saying, “but the system won’t work for a 1000-artist tournament!  We’ll need 24 more artists!”  And how right you are.  We’ll need 24 more artists.

Which is actually kind of cool, because we also have simmering in the background of this here tournament the fact that our initial selection of 1000 is both conservative and a bit dated.  Tournament followers may recall Voron X’s list of artists that he hoped would be in the tournament, that aren’t (yet).  So, in filling our 24 play-in slots, we can also add a little fresh blood into the tourney.  It’ll be fun.

How it shall work!

1)     YOU, gentle reader, YOU, may nominate any number of artists that you fear may not be on the initial list of 1000. 
a.       That’s admittedly a little nebulous, since I’m cagey about the initial list of 1000 and intend to continue this caginess.  Suffice to say that you can be pretty comfortable that the brand-name artists from your Art History class are all in there.  But when in doubt, nominate!  I’ll let you know which nominees are already in the running.
b.      Nominations can be left in the comments or, if you’re bashful, can be emailed to the blog at InfiniteArtTournament-at-gmail.  Or sent to me on an appropriately arty postcard if you know the address.
c.       I will recruit nominations again in a few months, after ideas have had a chance to percolate a bit.
2)      I will at some point curate the nominations to some number greater than 24.  In doing so, I’ll consider stuff!
a.       I’ll look into, and privilege, bona fide prominence and recognition within an arts community of at least one country.   Some degree of “fame” is a prerequisite; a significant community needs to take the artist seriously.
b.      I’ll privilege artists who are recognized as having become more prominent or influential in the last three decades.
c.       I’ll privilege, to a modest extent, the suggestions of established friends of this blog.
d.      If an artist is nominated by more than one reader, that will carry weight.
3)      I’ll come up with some sort of fun voting process to narrow the field down to the twenty-four play-in entrants we need for the larger tournament.
4)      Then, our twenty-four “wild cards” so determined will play into the tournament against artists that have previously fought to a tie in the first round.  For fairness’ sake, they won’t all be clumped together, but will rather be spaced so out that the earliest that two wild cards could go head to head would be the fourth round.

Let the Nominations Begin!

I will consider the nominations to have opened with Voron X having nominated the following artists: H.R. Giger, Luis Royo, Brom, Dorian Cleavenger, Michael Whelan, Sorayama, Brian Froud, Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, Mark Ryden, and Royo.  (I don’t know who any of these guys are, but now I’ll get to/have to do some research, which is great!)

I myself nominate British land-art dude Andy Goldsworthy, American land-art dude Robert Smithson, Russian kinda-Cubist Pavel Filinov, American muralist Thomas Hart Benton, and two omissions from our original list that I consider frankly odd: Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher and the extremely well-known American illustrative painter Norman Rockwell (although to be fair, the artistic reputation of the latter has gained considerably since the original list was published).

Now it’s your turn!


pfly said...

I'll second the nominations of Mark Ryden, Andy Goldsworthy, and Escher. And here's a few more (perhaps some are already on the list): Alex Grey, Christo, Ernst Haeckel, Keith Haring, Chris Berens, Dale Chihuly, Kris Kuksi, Tara McPherson.

Michael5000 said...

Way to throw down, pfly. I know Christo is on the original list, because I checked when I was making my own nominations. The others sound new to me.

Morgan said...

Escher's going to win, probably.

J. Slattum is a favorite of mine. He's from Portland!

I can't think of any other ones that wouldn't be on the list or haven't already been nominated, so I will "percolate" for a bit.

UnwiseOwl said...

Flying the flag for the Australians and diversity (these lists are ever dominated by Europe and the US, mostly, by probably not exclusively, because Australian art is rubbish):
Pro Hart
Reg Mombassa
Albert Namatjra
Sidney Nolan
Clifford Tjapaltjarri
Hans Heysen

mrs.5000 said...

More nominations!
Agnes Martin
Louise Nevelson
Rick Bartow
Olafur Eliasson
Theo Jansen

mrs.5000 said...

Pieter Saenredam

Michael5000 said...

Pierre Alechinsky, Gillian Ayres, Mariotto Albertinielli, Rosalba Carriera, Theodore Chasseriau, Charles De Muth, Joseph Wright, Jean Baptiste Oudry, Chuck Close, Gunther Forg, Adolf Wolfli, Wols!

Voron X said...

Can I add Stephanie Pui-Mun Law? She's a watercolorist, and I think they are under-represented so far.

Candida said...

Remedios Varo!


P.S. I second Pfly on Goldsworthy.

I also am fond of Nina Katchadourian, will suggest Banksy, and love the work of the mysterious book artist in Scotland:

(I'm not sure that these qualify according to your criteria, but you know what they say--"the blog reader proposes, the blogger disposes.")

chuckdaddy said...

I really like the Aboriginal dreaming dot pictures I've seen so I second Unwise Owls's Clifford Tjapaltjarri.

Morgan said...

I just stumbled across Zeng Fanzhi and I think he's really great!

lamanyana said...

Andy Goldsworthy
Alex Gray
Ernst Haeckel
Sidney Nolan
Rick Bartow
Olafur Eliasson
Adolf Wolfli

Baptiste Debombourg
Chad Person
Sharon Johnstone
Jessica Lloyd-Jones
Maskull Lasserre
Andres Amador
Anna Schuleit
Peter Aurisch
Lu Yanguang
Markus Linnenbrink
Tara Jane O'Neil
Bruce Licher
Roger Dean
Mark Pauline (Survival Research Laboratories)
Damian Michaels
Andrew Logan
Anselme Boix-Vives
Charles A. A. Dellschau

Michael5000 said...

Chuckdaddy nominated Justin Bua.

Michael5000 said...

Geertgen tot Sint Jans!

Morgan said...

Although I don't know whether or not he will count as an artist by this tournament's definition - he writes comic books - I quite like Jeff Smith's art style, and will therefore nominate him.