Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Left Bracket Seventh Round: Degas v. Homer



This Left Bracket Seventh Round match pairs Edgar Degas, who made it all the way to the "Elite Eight" before falling to Pieter Brughel, with Winslow Homer.  After an early loss, Homer has now won more matches (11) and received more votes (104) than anyone else in the Tournament.  Will he receive enough votes to win this match?  You'll help decide!


Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917
French
Edgar Degas seems never to have reconciled himself to the label of “Impressionist,” preferring to call himself a “Realist” or “Independent.” Nevertheless, he was one of the group’s founders, an organizer of its exhibitions, and one of its most important core members. Like the Impressionists, he sought to capture fleeting moments in the flow of modern life, yet he showed little interest in painting plein-air landscapes, favoring scenes in theaters and cafés illuminated by artificial light, which he used to clarify the contours of his figures, adhering to his academic training. - The Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
  • Whupped it up on sculptor Richard Deacon in Round 1.
  • Stomped on Eugène Delacroix in Round 2.
  • Crushed countryman Honoré Daumier in Round 3.
  • Bested Caravaggio in Round 4.
  • Beat Albrecht Dürer in a tough Round 5 match.
  • Beat Gustave Caillebotte in Round 6 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Lost to Pieter Bruegel in the Elite Eight round.










Winslow Homer
1836 - 1910
American
...this great painter of the American scene did not lose the edge when it came to the probity and drama of his art.... In works such as Fox Hunt (1893) and Right and Left (1909), Homer dealt with profound issues of existence, while in his paintings of the pounding surf of the Maine coast he brought nature to center stage.
- Smithsonian







Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Ladder of Art -- Week #20


Cast your votes for up to four of these seven artists by Friday April 19.  For clarifications, consult the Ladder of Art FAQ.


Way back in Week #9 of the Ladder of Art, we had our first artist who had actually won a match in the main Tournament.  Pietro da Cortana, who managed to eke out a 1-2 record from a 7-24 vote count, placed 484th initially and then quietly dropped six rungs down the Ladder to 490th.

After that outlier, starting this week we will start to see more artists that did not go two-and-out.  Adam Elsheimer, one of four artists taking their first step on the ladder today, managed a tie on his way to a 10-26 voting record. 


Last Week's Results



This Week's Contest



Adam Elsheimer
1578 - 1610
German; worked in Italy

Tournament Record: Placed 458th. Beaten by Thomas Eakins; tied with Sir Jacob Epstein before falling to Edvard Munch. 10 votes for, 26 votes against (.278).





Antoine Bourdelle
1861 - 1929
French

Tournament Record: Placed 459th. Beaten by Louise Bourgeois and Dieric Bouts. 7 votes for, 19 votes against (.269).





Georg Baselitz
1938 -
German

Tournament Record: Tied for 460th. Lost to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pompeo Batoni. 5 votes for, 14 votes against (.263).





Sir Joshua Reynolds
1723 - 1792
British

Tournament Record: Tied for 461st. Lost to Renoir and Guido Reni. 6 votes for, 17 votes against (.261).






Jacques Lipchitz
1891 - 1973
Lithuanian; worked in the U.S.A.

Tournament Record: Tied for 467th. Lost to Jean-Étienne Liotard and John Constable. 6 votes for, 18 votes against (.250).
  • Placed Second in Ladder Week #16. 
  • Tied for First in Week #17.
  • Placed Fourth in Week #19.





Sassetta
1392ish - 1450
Siennese

Tournament Record: Tied for 469th. Lost to Roelandt Savery and Juan Sánchez Cotán. 5 votes for, 15 votes against (.250).
  • Tied for First in Week #15.
  • Tied for First in Week #17.
  • Placed Third in Week #19.





Charles-François Daubigny
1817 - 1878
French

Tournament Record: Placed 505th.  Lost to Salvador Dali and Aelbert Cuyp. 4 votes for, 26 votes against (.133).
  • Finished First in Ladder Week #2.
  • Finished First again in Week #4.
  • ...and again in Week #6.
  • ...and in Week #8.
  • ...and in Week #10. 
  • ...and in Week #12. 
  • ...and in Week #14. 
  • ...and in Week #16.
  • ...and in Week #18.








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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Left Bracket Seventh Round: Caillebotte v. Varo



The first of four Left Bracket Seventh Round match pairs Caillebotte, who has just scored an upset against Albrecht Dürer, against Remedios Varo, who has lost her "Elite Eight" match against Vincent van Gogh.  Caillebotte and Varo are perhaps the least widely known artists still alive in the Tournament, meaning that one Cinderella story ends here -- but the other will continue at least one more round.


Gustave Caillebotte
1848 - 1894
French
Impressionists such as... Gustave Caillebotte enthusiastically painted the renovated city, employing their new style to depict its wide boulevards, public gardens, and grand buildings.... Caillebotte’s 1877 Paris Street, Rainy Day exemplifies how these artists abandoned sentimental depictions and explicit narratives, adopting instead a detached, objective view that merely suggests what is going on. - The Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History










Remedios Varo
1908 - 1963
Spanish; worked in Mexico
Her paintings are carefully drawn, making the astonishing stories or mystic legends especially convincing. Rejecting the male-dominated language of Surrealist doctrine, Varo often painted magnificent heroines busy with alchemical activities. A delicate figure may spin and weave tiny threads transforming them into musical instruments or fashion them into paintings of small birds. The settings are often medieval tower rooms equipped with occult laboratory devices. Figures wearing tattered garments may emerge from a forest of withered trees.... Varo borrowed from Romanesque Catalan frescoes and medieval architecture, mixed nature and technology, and combined reality and fantasy to create worlds that elude time and space.
- National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Finished First in Phase 1, Flight 3 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .917.
  • Finished First in Phase 2, Flight 1 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .500.
  • Beat André Beauneveu in Round 1.
  • Defeated Katsushika Hokusai in Round 2.
  • Thumped Dutch Master Pieter De Hooch in Round 3.
  • Crushed Andō Hiroshige in a Round 4 11-1 blowout.
  • Beat Edward Hopper in Round 5 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Beat Thomas Hart Benton in Round 6.
  • Lost to Vincent Van Gogh in Round 7.








Monday, April 8, 2019

Element of the Month: Tin!

April's Element of the Month:

Tin!
Sn
50

Atomic Mass: 118.710 amu
Melting Point: 231.93 °C
Boiling Point: 2602 °C

You have to love the prosaic elements, the ones that don't have names like Neodymium or Darmstadtium or Protactinium but, like, "Iron" or "Sulfur." Or "Tin." Tin is a great name, the shortest on the whole damn table. And it is abbreviated "Sn." Wait, what? Oh, apparently the Latin name is stannum, and there's a bit of a divide between Germanic forms (German Zinn, Swedish Tenn) and Romantic forms (Portuguese Estanho, Italian Stagno). That the kind of semantic trouble you run into with substances that were discovered back before the naming committee of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) arrived on the scene to keep things neat and tidy.

How long ago did people start messing about with Tin? To answer that, we need to go all the way back to the Bronze Age. After all, Bronze, which was the hot new tech about 5000 years ago, is basically Copper alloyed with Tin, right?  Since Bronze is much harder and more durable than unalloyed Copper, it could be used to make tools, weapons, and decorative obects that were absolutely state of the art. Since Copper ore and Tin ore are seldom found together, mind you, it took not only metallurgical sophistication but also control of a considerable supply chain in order to produce Bronze. In order to create the tools that would allow you to operate at a large scale, you had to operate at a large scale. For humanity, in other words, the Bronze Revolution was more or less the first day of the rest of our lives.

Now, a side note on Bronze: it's actually a pretty vague word, referring not only to Copper with Tin but also potentially with Aluminum, Manganese, Nickel, Zinc, Phosphorus, or what have you. "Wait," you say, "you said Zinc!  Isn't Copper alloyed with Zinc Brass?" Yes. Yes, it is. But Brass can also include Aluminum, Manganese, Phosphorus, and, um, Tin. Where are the IUPAC lads when you really need them? Actually, before Tin became what we shouldn't call the "Gold standard" of Bronze, the very earliest Bronzes alloyed Copper with Arsenic. This actually results in a lovely silvery product, but is rather tough on the people doing the mining and smelting, often causing health problems such as agonizing death. Also, remember how the Greek god of the forge, Hephaestus, was lame? There's a theory out there that lots of smiths in the early Bronze Age were lame, from the neurological problems caused by chronic exposure to Arsenic fumes.

The Centerfold!

Alpha-state Tin on the left, beta-state Tin on the right.  This is a still
from a nifty YouTube video that will convince you, if the next paragraph
doesn't, that you shouldn't keep your Tin ingots in the freezer.

But this isn't about Arsenic.  This is about Tin, which has two commonly occurring (and several more obscure) allotropes.  An allotrope is when an Element can take more than one form in a given physical state (ie. gas, liquid, solid) depending on its environment and mood.  This is generally a matter of how the molecules situate themselves geometrically relative to each other.  In the case of Tin, there's the silvery, metallic "beta" state we all know and love, but also a brittle grey "alpha" state which, for human uses, is often pretty problematic. The transformation, which can get started by cold conditions or exposure to Germanium, is called "Tin pest" or sometimes "Tin blight," "Tin disease," or "Tin leprosy," names that give you a feel for how popular this chemical phenomenon is among Tin users. Once the process gets rolling, it's "autocatylizing" -- the first areas of alpha-state Tin will actively recruit beta-state Tin to the dark side -- and, since alpha-state Tin takes up a lot more volume molecule to molecule, a manufactured item going through the transition will literally crumble to dust.

Human uses of Tin (outside of Bronze and other alloys) include its use in tin cans or "tins," which are generally made out of Iron, steel, or Aluminum. But they are often coated with Tin! A tin coating tends to protect other metals from decay, and to not react with food to create poisons the way a lot of things would. However, if you've been reading carefully you can probably work out why it is not a great idea to store your canned goods at sub-freezing temperatures. Well, there are actually a number of important reasons not to do that actually.

Tin has often been alloyed with Lead in electrical soldering. Lead is super malleable, and Tin conducts electricity well. With increased concern about Lead's toxicity, though, some electronics manufacturers have tried going the pure-Tin route. That works OK... unless the gadget gets too cold. But then, if the Tin pest sets in, those electrical connections turn to powder. If the gadget still has working parts, reheating it enough that the alpha-Tin converts back to beta-Tin can cause further damage, since the dust has likely drifted in the meantime and so you are creating new random electrical connections, and probably short circuits, wherever it ended up. So, this is something that they're trying to avoid in your higher-end gear.

I didn't think I'd have much to say about Tin, but I got kind of into it. Thanks for reading.

This cheerful guy is in the Mexican "Hojalata" tradition of painted tin.  The Spanish
word for Tin as an Element is
estaño, but as a sheet metal, it's Hojalata.

 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Ladder of Art -- Week #19


Cast your votes for up to four of these seven artists by Friday April 12.  For clarifications, consult the Ladder of Art FAQ.





Last Week's Results



This Week's Contest



Bernardino Luini
c. 1481 - 1532
Milanese

Tournament Record: Tied for 461st. Lost to Mabuse, AKA Jan Gossaert, and to Aristide Maillol. 6 votes for, 17 votes against (.261).





Angelica Kauffmann
1741 - 1807
Austrian; worked internationally

Tournament Record: Tied for 461st. Lost to Anish Kapoor and Ellsworth Kelly. 6 votes for, 17 votes against (.261).







Philip Guston
1913 - 1980
American

Tournament Record: Tied for 461st. Lost to Frans Hals and Richard Hamilton. 6 votes for, 17 votes against (.261).

  • Placed a distant Fourth in Week #18





Jacques Lipchitz
1891 - 1973
Lithuanian; worked in the U.S.A.

Tournament Record: Tied for 467th. Lost to Jean-Étienne Liotard and John Constable. 6 votes for, 18 votes against (.250).
  • Placed Second in Ladder Week #16. 
  • Tied for First in Week #17





Sassetta
1392ish - 1450
Siennese

Tournament Record: Tied for 469th. Lost to Roelandt Savery and Juan Sánchez Cotán. 5 votes for, 15 votes against (.250).
  • Tied for First in Week #15.
  • Tied for First in Week #17.





Veronese
1528 - 1588
Venetian

Tournament Record: Tied for 474th. Lost to Jan Vermeer and Andrea del Verrocchio. 5 votes for, 16 votes against (.238).
  • Tied for Third in Week #14. 
  • Tied for Fourth in Week #15. 
  • Placed Third in Week #16. 
  • Tied for Fourth in Week #17.
  • Placed Third in Week #18.






Edward Wadsworth
1889 - 1949
British

Tournament Record: Placed 490th. Lost to Édouard Vuillard and Alfred Wallis. 4 votes for, 16 votes against (.200).
  • Tied for Third in Ladder Week #6.
  • Tied for First in Ladder Week #7. 
  • Tied for First in Week #9. 
  • First Place, Week #11. 
  • In a three-way tie for First in Week #13. 
  • In a three-way tie for First in Week #15. 
  • Third Place in Week #17. 
  • Placed Second in Week #18. 








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