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I’ve gotten some feedback about the M(art)h Madness Art History seedings, and the tournament in general. Such as: This is a really dumb idea. And, it’s a really dumb idea to try to pick the top 16 artists from any given era. I have to agree.

Let me stipulate for the record that the entire concept of an Art History tournament is ridiculous. Art is inherently subjective, and even if a consensus might exist about who’s good, drawing a line under 16 is sort of absurd. But the idea of applying the rules of sports – where we do that sort of thing all the time – to the world of art appealed to me, because I’m a fan of both. That’s how I came up with the idea.

The 16 I chose in each bracket is my idea of the canon choices, based on skill, historical significance and popularity. These are really the greatest hits of art history – the people that you would discuss in a survey course. I’m not trying to be sophisticated or obscure. I’ve left a lot personal favorites off, because I couldn’t convince myself they would be in a consensus top 16. But subjectivity does creep into it, and I freely admit I left out Renoir because I can’t stand him. This approach doesn’t allow for much eclecticism, so most choices are pretty predictable, and unfortunately, it’s overwhelmingly white and male. I don’t have a great solution for that, and it may be a flaw of the entire project.

So, take it for what it is: an attempt to have fun playing with two domains that almost never intersect. And if you have ideas about how to make it better, please let me know.

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