Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, First Elimination Round #59/64



Faceoff #1: Tintoretto v. Tobey

Jacopo Tintoretto
1518 - 1594
Venice

Lost to James Tissot in Round 1.



-----

Mark Tobey
1890 - 1976
American

Lost to Titian in Round 1.





Faceoff #2: de Troy v. Twombly

Jean-François de Troy
1679 - 1752
French

Stomped by Toulouse-Lautrec in Round 1.



-----

Cy Twombly
1928 - 2011
American

Stomped by J.M.W. Turner in Round 1.





Vote for the two artists of your choice! Votes generally go in the comments, but have been known to arrive by email, by postcard, or in a sealed envelope.

Please note that you may vote only once in each face-off.  Opining that both of the artists in one of the two face-offs is superior to the other is fine, but casting your votes for two artists in the same face-off is not permissible.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Michael5000 vs. Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop

2012 Assessment: “I haven't read it. The title made me think maybe I had, but I was thinking of the rag and bone shop from Bleak House.”

Current Reading: I listened to a version from Naxos AudioBooks.

The biggest disappointment of The Old Curiosity Shop is that it has so very little to do with an old curiosity shop. This is simply not plain dealing. Using such a title lays out the promise that we readers will get to spend time lurking among oddities and knick-knacks considered quaint and queer even by people of the Victorian age, with all its massive trade surplus of old curiosities. But no, the shop in question is simply a location where things happen to happen (as it were) in the first few chapters, and for all the descriptions we are given it might as well be an old law office, or an old inn, or an old marine chandler’s shop, to choose three examples of businesses that Dickens made come to life far more vividly than he did this one.

Now, it may well be that Dickens’s original plan was more old-curiosity focused than the novel that actually got written. This is not as far-fetched as it may sound. Like many novels of the day, this one was originally published as a serial. Unlike most of them – at least unlike most of them that are still read today, anyway – Old Curiosity Shop shows clear evidence of major rethinking after the first bits were already in print. The first few chapters are told in first person by a narrator who meets a charming young girl in the street and helps her find her way home to – wait for it! – an old curiosity shop, where she lives with her grandfather. While he’s there, they receive colorful visitors, and Dickens starts to have trouble figuring out where to put his narrator while he’s overhearing all of the plot-laden conversations. Eventually, he gives up, and the narrator says something like “look, I’m just going to tell the rest of this story in third person,” then vanishes without a trace. It’s quite something.

So, it’s not at all unlikely that there is an unwritten novel here in which the narrator character stuck around and became significant, and much was made of the old curiosity shop and its old curios. But it probably isn’t a very good unwritten novel, or else Dickens wouldn’t have gone through the embarrassment of abandoning it so conspicuously.

The charming young girl, by the by, is the famous Little Nell, and you might have two notions about her. One is the crowds who gathered on the pier in the United States, begging people arriving from across the Atlantic to tell them whether Little Nell survived. This is a great story, but common sense warns us to be suspicious of the scale of the phenomenon. The second is Oscar Wilde’s quip that “one must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without dissolving into tears . . . of laughter.” This is a great line, but a bit vague in its application, since Little Nell dies offstage. Certainly, most modern readers will, I think, find Little Nell a fairly insubstantial fluff of virtue, sympathize with Wilde, and wonder why the Americans were so invested in her survival. For myself, I only felt that she went from remarkably robust pluck to feeble ill-health with surprisingly little transition, although I might be wrong about this. Missing key transitions is a constant risk when you read by ear.

Plot: Nell is in the care of her grandfather, who is in the grips of gambling addiction. When he can not pay back the money he has borrowed from an evil dwarf – you heard me, an evil dwarf – he and Nell take to the road for a new life of privation and grinding poverty. A variety of secondary characters begin looking for the vagabonds for a variety of reasons, scheming with and against each other for comic and tragic effect. A young wastrel named Dick Swiveler and a waif he calls The Marchioness form an unlikely relationship that is nevertheless rather charming. But meanwhile, Nell’s health takes a sudden turn for the worse.

Prognosis: Although it is not as episodic as some of the Dickens novels, I found that Old Curiosity Shop had sections and scenes that I found effective and entertaining, and others that bored me to tears. This was, for instance, the alternative means I found for shedding tears over Little Nell’s unfortunate exit. I don’t think we’d be reading this book today if its author hadn’t written his masterpieces. But if we happened on it by chance in that alternative universe, we might still decide it was “neglected.”

Second Opinion: In a 2011 Guardian poll, 1.2% of respondents listed The Old Curiosity Shop as their favorite Dickens novel, putting it third-to-last ahead of only Martin Chuzzlewit and the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Current Dickens Score: I have now read 12/14.5 of the non-Christmassy Dickens novels. On deck are Oliver Twist, Little Dorritt, and the Mystery of E

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Third Round: Reni v. Bouguereau!

Adolphe Bouguereau has been sweating it in the green room since back in 2014, while Lorenzo Ghiberti held up this chunk of the brackets by tying first with William Holman Hunt, then with Sir Henry Raeburn. Ghiberti finally fell this week, losing to Guido Reni, and leaves the Tournament with the peculiar record of 2-2-3.



Guido Reni
1575 - 1642
Italian






Adolphe William Bouguereau
1825 - 1905
French
  • Finished Second in Phase 1, Flight 2 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .733.
  • Finished First in Phase 2, Flight 2 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .455.
  • Walloped Domenico Beccafumi in the Main Tournament First Round.
  • Walloped Gwen John in Round 2.
  • Lost to Frida Kahlo 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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Waterhouse v. Watteau!

John William Waterhouse
1849 - 1917
English




-----

Antoine Watteau
1684 - 1721
French




----

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 22, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 3: Steen v. Sutherland!

Jan Steen
1626ish - 1679
Dutch

Defeated Frank Stella in Round 1 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
Won easily against Adriaen van Ostade in Round 2.







Graham Sutherland
1903 - 1980
British

Defeated George Stubbs in Round 1.
Won easily against Clyfford Still 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.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round Two: Toulouse-Lautrec v. Turner!

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
1864 - 1901
French

Crushed Jean-François de Troy in Round 1.







J.M.W. Turner
1775 - 1850
British

Crushed Cy Twombly in Round 1.







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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Wallis v. Warhol!

Alfred Wallis
1855 - 1942
British


-----

Andy Warhol
1828 - 1987
American




----

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 15, 2017

The Semi-Finals: Filippino Lippi v. Goldsworthy!





"Semifinals" designates the Fourth to Seventh Rounds of the Infinite Art Tournament.  This is a Left Bracket Fourth Round Match between Filippino Lippi (5-1, 47-22, .681) and Andy Goldsworthy (3-1-1, 48-21, .696).  Leaving the Tournament as Lippi's fifth consecutive victim is Ansel Adams (3-2, 36-27, .571).


Filippino Lippi
1457 - 1504
Florentine







Andy Goldsworthy
born 1956
British