People still occasionally find ways to let me know that the Tournament is dumb. Well, duh. It should be obvious that the Tournament is not trying to be particularly smart. The Tournament is just a machine for art appreciation, and I daresay it works pretty well if you let it.
|This is the kind of thing we pass on, because we have an embarrassment of riches.|
Nevertheless, I had more sympathy than usual for the naysayers a few weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to spend several hours at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was instructive, for instance, to spend some time with the paintings of Daubigny. He inspired no affection among us at all. With only four votes for and 26 against, he has the worst relative score of anyone who has left the Tournament to date. But in person, his proto-Impressionist landscapes are gorgeous, beautifully executed and -- this bugged me, somehow -- much, much smaller than I had expected. Jean Arp, a flash in the Tournament pan, is puckish and charming in a museum setting. Derain, a recent 2-and-out, was magnificent. The Boston MFA has a huge American collection, and it seemed that every time I stopped in front of one to say "wow," it turned out I was looking at an Allston, the very first artist we voted out of the Tournament, or a Copley, one of the most recent.
(Note: since I wrote the first draft, Domenicino -- a painter once designated by a fairly representative critic as the fourth best of all time, before he fell out of fashion -- passed Daubigny as the artist with the most painful Tournament record.)
Well, the nature of a tournament is that competitors get eliminated, I guess, and since this is a tournament of acknowledged masters there shouldn't be too many we are downright delighted to see booted out. (Naturally there are a few. For me, I look forward with unseemly glee to taking Gilbert and George and, even now, Roy Lichtenstein off of the brackets; I'm sure you have a few artists you are looking forward to seeing on the Wednesday Post yourself.) But for a few days, I admit I felt like this little Tournament was somehow a negative little thing, trivializing the art through its own triviality.
Don't worry, I'm back now. We've got some topsy-turvy madness coming up in the brackets this week!! Plus, at least one of us will enjoy some gratifying schadenfreude. It's gonna be great!
|Domenichino tallied a vote total of 3-21 and suffered the Tournament's first shutout|
on the way to a hasty exit. His St. John the Evangelist, however, was auctioned
in 2009 for £9.2 million. Somebody still loves him.