Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Halfway Week at the Infinite Art Tournament!!!

Two unrelated facts: We are halfway through 2014, and halfway through the Infinite Art Tournament!!

Halfway Through the Infinite Art Tournament?!?

Sort of!  For when Lanyon entered the ring against La Tour on Saturday, they were the 255th and 256th artists out of the 512 that will ultimately be competing in this show!  ...or close enough, anyway.  If you are enough of a brackets maven to notice that I am fudging a little on this point, you can also see why I'm fudging on this point.

Of course, being halfway through the First Round doesn't mean we're halfway through the Tournament as a whole.  We are, for instance, only 43% of the way into the Second Round, 36% of the way into the Third Round, and 25% of the way into the Fourth Round.  That there is still plenty of Tournament still to go is best shown by the Semi-Finals Bracket, which has been kicking around for a while but which I am now officially taking out of beta:

We will celebrate the halfway point this coming weekend by kicking off the Fifth Round!!!

Kicking Off the Fifth Round!!!

That's right -- the Tournament will make a great leap forward, as the winner of Altdorfer/Fra Angelico takes on the winner of Balla/Basquiat in hopes of reaching the Sweet Sixteen.  After that, we'll start a contest from the semi-finals on the first weekend of every odd-numbered month.  Meanwhile, we'll still be running Fourth-Round matches on the first weekends of even-numbered months, so you'll be able to start every month with some of the most competitive names in the visual arts!

What About the Play-In Tournament?

It's all over!!  The last remaining details were resolved on Friday, with Escher toppling Bill Viola for a shot at Tournament glory and Wright of Derby successfully defending his bracket slot.  You'll see those guys again in a couple of years!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Lanyon v. La Tour!

Peter Lanyon
1918 - 1964


Georges de La Tour
1593 - 1652


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, June 27, 2014

June's Element of the Month: Sodium!

June's Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 22.98976928 amu
Melting Point: 97.794 °C
Boiling Point: 882.940 °C

The sun, as everyone knows, is a big ball of fusion energy. As with most stars, it is a gravity well in which the universe's most common form of matter, Hydrogen, is put under so much pressure that it converts to Helium, venting a heap of energy as it does so. Thank goodness. This is why Helium is the second most common form of matter. At the end of a big star's life, as I understand it, the Helium fusion process starts to sputter out, the star starts to contract, the pressure rises, temperatures increase, and WHOOSH! the Helium starts to fuse, into Oxygen and Carbon. Oxygen and Carbon are what? The third and fourth most common types of matter, that's what. After Helium fusion runs its course, if the star is big enough -- much bigger than our own lil' guy -- Carbon fusion kicks in, creating Neon, Magnesium, and our Element of the Month, Sodium. By the stark standards of our universe's physical laws, this is indeed a straightforward production process, and that's why Sodium is a relatively common element.

It's especially common here on the crust of planet Earth, where it lags behind only Calcium, Iron, Aluminum, and the two major players, Silicon and Oxygen. It is promiscuously reactive with air and water and much else, however, and so is never found in its elemental state (a silvery metal, of course) in the natural world. As you surely recall, Sodium loves to pal around with Chlorine, creating a chemical salt that in English we call "salt." This substance makes up 3.5% of the world's oceans by weight, which is really rather staggering if you think about it. 'Tis said that if you took all of the salt out of the oceans and spread it evenly on the continents -- everyone needs a hobby -- it would cover everything to a depth of about 500 feet. This would make you deeply unpopular.

The Centerfold!

You like to think of yourself as a unitary being, and you shouldn't be embarassed about it; we all do. In reality, of course, we are each a surprisingly successful committee of zillions of cells, each of which is to a certain extent an independent entity, doing its own thing. For this to work, however, each and every cell needs to coordinate its activity with its neighbors, and apparently they do this by exchanging electrical signals, and apparently they do THIS by playing Sodium ions off against Potassium ions. That makes Sodium an essential nutrient, and therefore for most of human history salt has been a much sought-after commodity. (I once TAed for a professor who said that when you are depleted of sodium, a salt tablet tastes much like an M&M; however, he was an inveterate fibber and one never knew whether to take his tales of daring-do seriously.) These days, of course, we consume salt in quantities not much short of toxic, and the resulting blood pressure conditions are thought to cause seven or eight million premature deaths every year.

As with everything else (see Potassium, paragraph 4), it was Sir Humphrey Davy that first really figured out Sodium. What couldn't that man do!!!

Sir Humphry Davy, portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Expected Tournament Entry: Three weeks from tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Third-Round Elimination: Bierstadt v. Giovanni Bellini!

Way back in January, we had our first ever foray into Left Bracket Third Round Elimination, with Bazille and Beckmann meeting in a high-power grudge match.  Now, five months later, we've been able to drag a second pair of artists to the same point.

What Albert Bierstadt and Giovanni Bellini have in common is resentment of Gianlorenzo Bernini. The formidable Italian marblesmith sent both of them to the Left Brackets, Bierstadt in the Second Round and Bellini in the third. Since then, they've been stayin' alive -- but only one can survive the Elimination Round! Let's find out who!

Leaving us this week after very respectable runs are William Blake (2-2; 30 vf, 27 va) and the Italian Futurist Umberto Boccioni (3-2; 42 vf, 23 va).

Albert Bierstadt
1830 - 1902
German-born American

Giovanni Bellini
1434 - 1516
  • Defeated Hans Bellmer in Round 1 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Took down American George Bellows in a fair fight in Round 2.
  • Lost to Gianlorenzo Bernini in Round 3 by a mere two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Beat Umberto Boccioni in the Left Bracket Third Round by another two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE STILL COUNTS!!!


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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Wednesday Post

"Greetings from Riverton, Wyoming"
The Avatar is resting his legs in style, at the Tomahawk

It has been just over 200 miles since we last saw the running Avatar, back at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.  Since then, he's been proceeding generally southeast across the wastelands of Wyoming, and if you've ever been to Wyoming you know that there is an awful lot of wasteland to be crossed.

Riverton is the largest town in an agricultural oasis tucked in the valleys of the Wind River and its various tributaries.  You can kind of guess how the town got its name.  The Wind turns north here, eventually ducking into a canyon and changing its name to "The Bighorn" on its way north to Montana and the Missouri.

The big controversy in Riverton these days got underway when legal research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, of all people, revealed that, technically speaking, the town might kinda sorta be part of the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Awkward!

Outside of some gallery space at the local community college, there doesn't seem to be a real arts mecca, so the Avatar just ran around checking out the town and being happy to be in the largest place he's seen since Moscow, Idaho.  The first night in town, he stayed at the Day's Inn, but he has since moved on to the Tomahawk, which is really more our style.  We only regret that the sign shown here has been replaced by something a bit less fabulous.

The Avatar entered Wyoming in Yellowstone Park, turned south into Teton National Park, and then turned east of southeast on U.S. Highway 26.  The original plan was to veer off southward toward Lander and then towards Rawlins and ultimately Laramie (the purple arrow).  Instead, from Riverton we'll run northeast on a rails-to-trails route (shown here in yellow) and then head east (the green arrow) towards Casper and the Midwest beyond!

Incidentally, if that map of Wyoming looked kind of weird to you but you can't quite figure out why, the reason is: no freeways.  It's an older map than it looks.

As of this post, the Avatar and me have each run exactly 500.00 miles this year, which puts us in pretty good position in our quests for the thousand-mile year.  For the Avatar, it's been a whole lot of Montana and Wyoming and a little bit of Idaho.  For me, in real life, it's been a whole lot of Oregon, and not much else.  But this may soon change!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round: Grünewald v. Gris!

The "Fight for Their Right" contests for Bill Viola's and Wright of Derby's bracket spots close Friday!

Matthias Grünewald
1470s - 1528

Lost to George Grosz in Round 1.
Got past Guercino in First Round Elimination.

Juan Gris
1887 - 1927
Spanish; worked in France

Decisively beat 18th/19th century French painter Baron Antoine-Jean Gros in Round 1.
Sent packing by Atkinson Grimshaw 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, but likely much longer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Lancret v. Landseer!

Nicolas Lancret
1690 - 1743


Sir Edwin Landseer
1802 - 1873


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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round: Greuze v. Grosz!

Jean-Baptiste Greuze
1725 - 1805

Lost to Atkinson Grimshaw in Round 1.
Scorched another French guy 20 years his elder, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, in First Round Elimination.

George Grosz
1893 - 1959

Beat old German master Matthias Grünewald in Round 1.
Lost to Venetian Francesco Guardi 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, but likely much longer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Wednesday Post

Where are they now?
Something in the mail from five artists of yesteryear

Charles-François Daubigny lost to Dali and Cuyp, leaving the Tournament on June 15, 2013.

Giorgio de Chirico beat Christo in the First Round, but took a 1-2 punch from Chardin and Champaigne and got ousted on July 27, 2013.

Fernando Botero -- Colombia's favorite son met Botticelli in the First Round, and that didn't really work out well for him.  He beat Boudin, tied Louise Bourgeois, and finally fell to George Caleb Bingham. He left the Tournament on July 11, 2013.

Agostino di Duccio was hustled out of the Tournament with back-to-back losses against Dubuffet and Van Dyck, exiting on September 20, 2013.

George Catlin lost to Catena, beat Castagno, and then fell to Carlo Carrà, leaving the Tournament on June 8, 2013.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Round Three: Dossi v. Braque!

Dosso Dossi and Georges Braque have developed the habit of winning or losing by a single vote.  Mr. Dossi has just snuck by Buren, while Mr. Braque was thrown to the left bracket last October by Richard Diebenkorn.  

Will it be another close match?  Let's find out!

Dosso Dossi
c.1490 - 1542

Georges Braque
1882 - 1963
  • Defeated Modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Round 1 in a thrilling come-from-behind one-vote dust-up! YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Languished for the better part of a year before the discovery that his victory was miscalculated as a tie.
  • Made it past Germany's Otto Dix in Round 2.
  • Lost to Richard Diebenkorn in Round 3 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!


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.