Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dark Days in the Northern Hemisphere: Tenth Anniversary Edition



This post originally appeared on this blog ten years ago today.  It is exactly as true now as it was then.

 ---

OK, this post goes out to all of you Northern Hemisphere dwellers who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the winter blues, or who are just bummed out by finishing the day's work when it's already dark outside.

REJOICE!

For tonight's sunset -- Sunday's, that is -- will be the earliest of the year. If tomorrow, as you leave your office or classroom or factory or whatever it may be, or as you glance up after a long day of righteous labor in the home, if it seems just a tiny bit brighter than it was today -- that's 'cause it is.

But isn't the solstice still like eleven days away?

Yes, it is. But the solstice, although it is the shortest day of the year, does not have the earliest sunset or the latest sunrise. The earliest sunset comes today, and then starts creeping later. By the 21st, the sunset is getting later exactly as fast as the sunrise is getting later, and thereafter starts to outpace it. By about January 3rd, the sunrise starts creeping earlier too, and before you know it it's spring.

But Why?

It's really hard to explain. It has to do with the fact that the Earth moves faster through the arc of its orbit this time of year, when it's closer to the sun, giving the cycle of day and night a little push forward. The pattern is reversed in June and July, when we are the furthest from the sun.

Can You Elaborate?

No. I can barely keep it straight in my own head, let alone articulate it clearly. You'll just have to roll with it.

[Photo taken via Google image from the Flickr site of someone named Alice Thelma, who presumably owns the copyright. I imagine it's the same Alice Thelma who had this blog of phenomenal Portland-at-night photos.]

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Ladder of Art -- Rung #3

Cast your votes for up to four of these seven artists by Friday, December 14.  For clarifications, consult the Ladder of Art FAQ.


Last Week's Results

This Week's Contest


Tom Wesselmann
1931 - 2004
American

Tournament Record: Placed 499th (four-way tie). Lost to Carel Weight and Antoine Watteau. 3 votes for, 17 votes against (.150).





Louis François Roubiliac
1702 - 1762
French; worked in England

Tournament Record: Placed 499th (four-way tie). Lost to Henri Rousseau and Théodore Rousseau. 3 votes for, 17 votes against (.150).





Orcagna (Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo)
1308 - 1368
Florentine

Tournament Record: Placed 499th (four-way tie). Lost to Claes Oldenburg and Bryan Organ. 3 votes for, 17 votes against (.150).
  • Tied for Second, Ladder Rung #2




Stefan Lochner
1442 - 1451
German

Tournament Record: Placed 507th (tie). Lost to El Lissitzky and Filippino Lippi. 3 votes for, 21 votes against (.125).
  • Tied for Third, Ladder Rung #1
  • Tied for Second, Ladder Rung #2




Domenichino
1581 - 1641
Italian

Tournament Record: Placed 507th (tie).  Lost to Donatello and Dosso Dossi. 3 votes for, 21 votes against (.125).
  • Tied for First, Ladder Rung #1




Simon Vouet
1590 - 1649
French

Tournament Record: Placed 509th.  Lost to Maurice de Vlaminck and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. 2 votes for, 16 votes against (.111).
  • Tied for Third, Ladder Rung #1 
  • Tied for Second, Ladder Rung #2




Jack Butler Yeats
1871 - 1957
Irish

Tournament Record: Placed 512th (last).  Lost to Andrew Wyeth and Wright of Derby. 1 vote for, 19 votes against (.050).
  • Tied for First, Ladder Rung #1




Cast up to four votes in the comments by Friday morning!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

So, Who's Winning? And other spoilers.

Who's winning?

The answer is John Singer Sargent. 

You didn't think I'd just pop right out and tell you, did ya!  But it's true, Sargent entered the Sixth Round with an astronomical .855 voting ratio, which makes him the closest thing we have to a field leader at this point.  In any event, it's clear that he's not going to show up anytime soon on the Ladder of Art.  There are two other artists who finished Round Five with more than 4/5 of the votes on their side: Leonardo da Vinci (.817) and Vincent van Gogh (.803). 

Double-elimination tournaments don't lend themselves well to the concept of the "Sweet Sixteen," but Round Six, which kicked off last spring and summer, featured the last sixteen artists who were undefeated.  They are a satisfyingly quirky group, with towering names in art (Monet, Michaelangelo, Degas) balanced by some dark horses (Caillebotte, Patenier, Sheeler) and two relative unknowns (Ely, Varo). 

While those sixteen have been locked in their titanic battles, the Left Brackets have been on a long, epic journey to catch up.  And, they are almost there!  In fact, six members of the "Also Quite Toothsome Sixteen" -- the artists who made it to Fifth Round Elimination with only one loss -- are already pitted against each other in painterly combat.  The matches that will select the other ten members of this group are all underway.  Which means that, for the first time, we can actually see the remainder of the tournament in just one reasonably intelligible image!


Now, I'm going to tell you what you're getting for Christmas:

The first Round Seven Match!  It will be the best Christmas ever.  And for the New Year, you'll get the second Round Seven Match! 


What else does the future hold?

The Round Seven excitement will keep things pretty busy in January, and we'll stay on the two-a-week-plus-the-ladder-on-the-weekend schedule.

In February, we'll switch over to one-a-week, probably on Wednesdays.

We should be crowning the bracket winner sometime this summer!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Left Bracket Fifth Round: Wyeth v. Steen!



The final Left Bracket Fifth Round match pairs Andrew Wyeth (5-1, 67-20, .770) against Jan Steen (4-1, 36-20, .643).  Wyeth is full of spare yearning, and has run away with a lot of his Tournament matches.  Steen comes to party, and has tended to win the close ones.  Let's see who stays alive for the Fifth Round Elimination round!


Andrew Wyeth
1917 - 2009
American
Wyeth’s technical resources are remarkable. His work displays a strong linear quality, and within his limited palette—consisting mostly of earth tones—he achieves a subtly extensive range of colour. His paintings are precise and detailed, yet he moves them beyond photographic naturalism by imbuing them with a sense of subjective emotion. This work also exemplifies his use of unusual angles and his mastery of light.... Art historians have often characterized Wyeth’s work as sentimental and antithetical to the abstract trajectory of 20th-century art. In the face of such criticism, Wyeth’s work has always been popular.
- The Britannica









Jan Steen
1626ish - 1679
Dutch
Steen is unique among leading 17th-century Dutch painters for his humour; he has often been compared to the French comic playwright Molière, his contemporary, and indeed both men treated life as a vast comedy of manners.... He was a master at capturing subtleties of facial expression, especially in children. His best works display great technical skill, particularly in the handling of colour. During Steen’s last years, his paintings began to anticipate the Rococo style of the 18th century, becoming increasingly elegant and somewhat less energetic, as in the Serenade (c. 1675), and showing a heavy French influence and an increased flamboyance.
- The Britannica
  • Defeated Frank Stella in Round 1 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Won easily against Adriaen van Ostade in Round 2.
  • Beat Graham Sutherland easily in Round 3.
  • Beat Jean Tinguely in Round 4 by a safe margin.
  • Lost to Jan Vermeer in Round 5.






Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Ladder of Art -- Rung #2

Cast your votes for up to four of these seven artists by Friday, December 7.  For Rules and Reasons, consult the Ladder of Art FAQ.


Last Week's Results

This Week's Contest



Robert Ryman
Born 1930
American

Tournament Record: Placed 499th (four-way tie). Lost to Francesco Salviati and Jacob van Ruisdael. 3 votes for, 17 votes against (.150).





Orcagna (Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo)
1308 - 1368
Florentine

Tournament Record: Placed 499th (four-way tie). Lost to Claes Oldenburg and Bryan Organ. 3 votes for, 17 votes against (.150).





Josef Beuys
1921 - 1986
German

Tournament Record: Placed 503rd. Lost to Gianlorenzo Bernini and George Caleb Bingham. 4 votes for, 24 votes against (.143).





Max Hermann Pechstein
1881 - 1955
German

Tournament Record: Placed 504th. Lost to Joachim Patenier and Perugino. 3 votes for, 18 votes against (.143).





Charles-François Daubigny
1817 - 1878
French

Tournament Record: Placed 505th.  Lost to Salvador Dali and Aelbert Cuyp. 4 votes for, 26 votes against (.133).





Stefan Lochner
1442 - 1451
German

Tournament Record: Placed 507th (tie). Lost to El Lissitzky and Filippino Lippi. 3 votes for, 21 votes against (.125).
  • Tied for Third, Ladder Rung #1




Simon Vouet
1590 - 1649
French

Tournament Record: Placed 509th.  Lost to Maurice de Vlaminck and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. 2 votes for, 16 votes against (.111).
  • Tied for Third, Ladder Rung #1 




Cast up to four votes in the comments by Friday morning!