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Art Madness II: “America’s Favorite Post-War Artwork” tournament!

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The 64-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off today, which means March Madness is about to take over watercooler. Every American worth her cubicle will fill out a bracket, drop $5 into an office pool and hope that Xavier or Bucknell or whomever can pull off a few upsets, advance through her bracket-sheet and make it to the Final Four.

Well, I don’t know a Morehead State from a Wofford. I’m an art guy. I don’t much care who moves through the West Regional, but I’m fascinated by who moved through Robert Rauschenberg‘s Minutiae. The only perimeter shot I’m interested in hit Chris Burden in the arm.

So over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring our tournament, MAN’s second annual Art Madness. This year’s premise is simple: What’s the greatest work of art that’s been made since World War II? (For the purpose of this bit of frivolity, I gave the seeding committee this guidance when it comes to artists working in serieses: It’s not necessary to pick one Cindy Sherman ‘film still’ above all others… but Richard Diebenkorn‘s 25-year “Ocean Park” series is not a ‘single thing.’) [Image above: No. 1 seed Spiral Jetty, via Flickr user Mediachef. Collection of the Dia Art Foundation. Below: The No. 2 seed, Jasper JohnsWhite Flag, 1955. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.]

In seeding this year’s tournament I was joined by five guests, each of whom submitted a list of 32 post-war artworks, ranked 1-32. Each voter’s No. 1 seed was given 32 points, No. 2 was given 31 and so on. Then I totaled up the points for every artwork listed to reach the 64 seeds listed below. It was a particularly fascinating seeding process: The six seeders listed 153 works of art. The two most-featured artists were Andy Warhol (seven works) and Robert Rauschenberg (five). The artist who was most listed but who did not make the brackets was Mike Kelley (four), which points to both his importance and the extent to which his masterpiece(s) have yet to be agreed upon.

In alphabetical order, this year’s contributors:

  • Michael Auping is the chief curator of the Modern Art Museum Fort Worth. His most recent exhibition,Ed Ruscha: Road Tested” is on view now.
  • Kristen Hileman is the curator of contemporary art at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Her last exhibition was “Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection,” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
  • Dominic Molon is the new chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. His last exhibition was “Production Site: The Artist’s Stdio Inside-Out,” at the MCA Chicago. The showaddressed the key role of the studio in artist’s practice.
  • Ed Schad is an assistant curator at The Broad Art Foundation. He publishes reviews in Art Review magazine and on I call it ORANGES.
  • Katy Siegel is associate professor of art history at Hunter College, editor of the College Art Association’s Art Journal and a contributing editor at Artforum. Her book, “Since ’45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art” was just published by Reaktion.

Here’s the seeding. Any errors in dates or spelling are my own. The brackets are here. Voting begins on Monday:

  1. Spiral Jetty, 1970, Robert Smithson
  2. White Flag, 1955, Jasper Johns
  3. Untitled Film Stills, 1977-80, Cindy Sherman
  4. Bed, 1955, Robert Rauschenberg
  5. Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950, Jackson Pollock
  6. Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952, 1952, Jackson Pollock
  7. Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962, Andy Warhol
  8. Lavender Disaster (Electric Chairs), Andy Warhol, 1963
  9. 100 untitled works in milled aluminum, 1982-86, Donald Judd
  10. Rebus, 1955, Robert Rauschenberg
  11. Uncle Rudi, 1965, Gerhard Richter
  12. Monogram, 1955-59, Robert Rauschenberg
  13. Excavation, 1950, Willem de Kooning
  14. Splash Pieces, 1968-1970, Richard Serra
  15. Shoot, 1971, Chris Burden
  16. Etant donnes, 1946-66, Marcel Duchamp
  17. October 18, 1977 (The Baader-Meinhof paintings), 1988, Gerhard Richter
  18. The Americans, 1955-59, Robert Frank
  19. The Studio, 1969, Philip Guston
  20. One, Number 31, 1950, 1950, Jackson Pollock
  21. Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953, Robert Rauschenberg
  22. Stations of the Cross, 1958-66, Barnett Newman
  23. Lavender Mist, Number 1, 1950, 1950, Jackson Pollock
  24. The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 1959, Frank Stella
  25. Flag, 1954-55, Jasper Johns
  26. Three Flags, 1958, Jasper Johns
  27. Woman I, 1950-52, Willem de Kooning
  28. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963, Ed Ruscha
  29. Light in August, 1946, Willem de Kooning
  30. Small Painting for TM (Thomas Merton), 1957, Ad Reinhardt
  31. Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950-51, Barnett Newman
  32. One Ton Prop (House of Cards), 1969, Richard Serra
  33. I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974, Joseph Beuys
  34. Rhythm 0, 1974, Marina Abramovic
  35. Venice Storefront, 1972, Robert Irwin
  36. Fifty Days at Iliam, 1978, Cy Twombly
  37. The State Hospital, 1966, Ed Kienholz
  38. Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1965-68, Ed Ruscha
  39. The Store, 1961, Claes Oldenburg
  40. Cremaster 2, 1999, Matthew Barney
  41. Just what is it that makes today’s homes…, 1956, Richard Hamilton
  42. Silents, 1964-66, Andy Warhol
  43. Ballantine Ale Cans, 1960, Jasper Johns
  44. Live Taped Video Corridor, 1970, Bruce Nauman
  45. The Physical Impossibility…, 1992, Damien Hirst
  46. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1981, Maya Lin
  47. Minutiae, 1954, Robert Rauschenberg
  48. Merda d’Artista, 1961, Piero Manzoni
  49. Room for St. John of the Cross, 1983, Bill Viola
  50. 7AM Sunday Morning, 2003, Kerry James Marshall
  51. Ulysses, 1952, Barnett Newman
  52. 15 untitled works in concrete, 1980-84, Donald Judd
  53. Butterfly Wing, 1947, Wols
  54. New Industrial Parks near Irvine, Calif., 1974, Lewis Baltz
  55. Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962, Andy Warhol
  56. Eight Student Nurses, 1966, Gerhard Richter
  57. Rabbit, 1986, Jeff Koons
  58. Woman’s Body, 1950, Jean Dubuffet
  59. Empire, 1964, Andy Warhol
  60. Onement I, 1948, Barnett Newman
  61. diagonal of May 25, 1963, 1963, Dan Flavin
  62. (Early) Wall Drawings, c.1969-early 1970s, Sol LeWitt
  63. Seine, 1952, Ellsworth Kelly
  64. Woman, 1948, Willem de Kooning
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  1. Maximo Xavier says:

    Wow, the greatest work of art since WWII is most likely by some old white guy. Go figure.

  2. Bodie says:

    Will there be a woman’s bracket too?

  3. James says:

    I’m an American and my favorite postwar artwork is Murakami’s ‘Lonesome Cowboy.’

  4. […] Art version of March Madness: What’s the greatest work of art that’s been made since World War II? from Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes from → arts corner ← French Film Festival 3/17/11-3/20/11 LikeBe the first to like this post. No comments yet […]

  5. […] across America: Art Madness II, America’s Favorite Post-War Artwork Tournament. Here are our 64 seeded artworks. (Call it AFPWAT for short. I do. Actually, I guess I don’t.) [Image: No. 3 seed Untitled Film […]

  6. LMB says:

    Hmmmmm, more white guys. This list is so totally predictable. There are good art listed but omits so, so much. Instead of listing a variety, there are a number of Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. What the hell happened to Agnes Martin, Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou, KiKi Smith, Diane Arbus, Barbara Kruger, Joan Mitchell, etc. etc.

  7. Kent Brockman says:

    Maybe the female readers can organize like the Toledo Art Museum last year and have Cindy Sherman and Marina Abramovic in the final two. I would say they could vote to create an all-women’s final four, but alas, there aren’t four female artists in the entire bracket. Very disappointing from someone who is the first to lambast others for the same thing.

  8. […] announced for Art Madness II: ”America’s Favorite Post-War Artwork” Tournament courtesy of Modern Art […]

  9. […] Madness isn’t just sports! Tyler Green has a bracket for our favorite Post-War work of […]

  10. Ulf Buchholz says:

    Glad to see a wide variety of art included in this list. It’s astonishing to me that only 35 artists are represented here (unless I miscounted) and almost all of them are Americans. Apparently very few people outside of the US painted, sculpted or otherwise engaged in creating art in the last 65 years. Also interesting that three men and two women still arrived at the conclusion that art great art is made mostly by men. Also, photography is underrepresented in an almost criminal way. Where, for example, are the Bechers?

  11. […] The 64 seeds and the seeding method. The brackets and schedule. View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View […]

  12. […] poetic reasons, Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes is hosting a bracketed multi-stage poll, America Picks the […]

  13. Matthew says:

    Three women and almost no folks of colour is indeed a bit surprising. Tyler, maybe you’d be willing to tell us more about the seeding process; was it an issue of trying to find overlap between the suggestions of all five contributors, or were there really just scant few nominations of works by female artists and artists of colour?

  14. Tyler Green says:

    I was joined by five guests, each of whom submitted a list of 32 post-war artworks, ranked 1-32. Each voter’s No. 1 seed was given 32 points, No. 2 was given 31 and so on. Then I totaled up the points for every artwork listed to reach the 64 seeds listed below.

  15. […] is the second year Tyler Green has given his readers a set of brackets ostensibly for the art world. Last year he pitted the […]

  16. Brian Dupont says:

    After a few twitter exchanges on the subject, here are my thoughts on this tournament, on my own blog:


    It is rather long, so I’m posting a relevant excerpt here, and invite Tyler to excerpt or alter the format as he sees fit for his own comments section.

    Looking at his selection of 64 works of art, you’ll find only 3 works by women: Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0, and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On the other hand, most of the (very) old white males of the art historical canon are represented multiple times. Ruscha, Serra, and Judd are found twice; Richter three times; Johns, Rauschenberg, DeKooning, Pollock, and Barnet Newman four times; and, perhaps fittingly for this kind of popularity contest, Warhol leads the pack with five works. That’s more than half the total bracket represented by only 10 (white) men.

    Mr. Green did not generate the list of works himself; he amalgamated a seeding selection from five guests (two of whom were women) to get the final brackets, but the process is his, and despite facing complaints from myself and others (on Twitter) he has chosen to defend these results as given by the process he set up. I have suggested (in an exchange on Twitter) that such results may point to a flawed process and that as the organizer he could have made some changes, but his response was “Why on earth would I presume I’m so smart I should overrule the five other (distinguished) people I invited to contribute?”

    An exercise of this sort, intended to be lighthearted and in good fun, is bound to contain most of the works that populate the very end of a mammoth art history textbook. The broad outlines and movements of post-war and contemporary art will be illustrated with a few key works, as space allows. If women and minorities are not well represented, whose fault is that? The makers of the list only picked personal favorites and had them compiled after all. If Joan Snyder, Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou, Ana Mendita, Anne Truitt, Agnes Martin, Lee Krasner, Lynda Benglis, Carolee Schneemann, Judy Chicago, Howardina Pindell, Elizabeth Murray, Dorthea Rockburn, Mona Hatoum, Yayoi Kusama, or Louise Bourgeios (to name just a few of the notables from the same time period as most of the works on the list off the top of my head) weren’t the favorites of these critics and curators, why is that necessarily a problem within the context of this harmless little game?

    The answer is that because Mr. Green’s game has managed to illustrate quite succinctly how easy it is to exclude women and minorities and still have everyone involved remain blameless. Whether it be a small lark of a bracket or the larger art world, it is too easy to point at a system or process as an excuse without actually examining who set up the system or how. It may be “just a game”, but games allow us to distill and process some of life’s messier and complex interactions into a simpler form that is more comprehensible for its abstraction. In short, they make it easier to see what is fair, and I think it becomes very clear that the system as devised is not (either in the brackets or the art world).

    At least in the case Art Maddness II, the problems are easier to identify and fix. Looking at the list I think it is evident that there are shifting evaluations based on lax guidelines. If it makes sense to consider Cindy Sherman’s entire Untitled Film Still series and Gerhard Richter’s Baader-Meinhof paintings as a single entity, why does Jasper Johns need three different flags? Is Three Flags really that different from Flag? Similarly, how different are the DeKooning Women or any of the Newman zip paintings? Is the point to consider groundbreaking work or major statements? Isn’t Vir Heroicus Sublimis so closely related to Onement I that context that they can be discussed in the same breadth? Pollock’s individual drip paintings are different enough, but isn’t their scope related to the collective breakthrough they represent?

    Lest I be accused of not presenting an alternative, I find that I only need to look at another rite of spring, one that relates to my own sporting interest and would not require any great investment to change. Every spring Baseball America ranks the top 100 prospects in baseball’s minor leagues. It is every bit as contentious as any other interested battle of minutiae, and their process is remarkably similar to Mr. Green’s. Each of their writing staff compiles a list of their opinion of the top prospects, and the results are compiled in a spreadsheet. However instead of that being the end of it and having the final list generated by having Jim Callis hit ‘print’, the writers get together to look at the raw results and debate and argue for them. They curate the list, revising and reconsidering so that there is, if not consensus, then at least a sense that the biases and idiosyncrasies that arise from such a small sampling of opinion can be removed and that the final list is stronger. Mr. Green could have had a simple conference call with Michael Auping, Kristen Hileman, Dominic Molon, Ed Schad, and Katy Siegel to see where duplicate works that present the same idea could be reconciled, and to see what deserving works that may have been left off could take the place of the duplicate.

    To be inclusive may have been a bit more work, but it is disappointing that a writer who purports to hold himself to high standards and certainly holds others to similar account did not make the effort. The tournament hosted by Modern Art Notes is a small offense, but the reason to speak out against such minor infractions is to hold the larger system to account. That “it’s just a game” shouldn’t be an excuse if we don’t want “it’s just art” to be a similar refrain.

  17. […] The 64 seeds and the seeding method. The brackets and schedule. Round one voting: Part one. View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll […]

  18. slc says:

    Excellent, thoughtful comments from Brian Dupont, which I appreciate all the more because I’m still tangled up in my first stumbling block, which is trying to figure out how five distinguished curators can manage to leave out Mark Rothko entirely.

  19. River says:

    Perhaps this is the end of the world as we know it.

  20. […] The 64 seeds and the seeding method. The brackets and schedule. Round one voting: Part one. Part two. View Poll View Poll View Poll […]

  21. Gerald says:

    As many women represented as woman in the title. What about Stills, Diebenkorn? Arnet publishes their top 300 based on search here. Artnet is open to all the world and not all artist made works post 1945 that reside in America, but its a good list of popularity and that top search list points to many artist that are underrepresented on this list.

  22. […] been some online kerfuffling on the interwebz about the stunning lack of ladies present in Modern Art Notes March Madness-style tournament, in which he’s asking readers to vote on the “greatest work of art since World War […]

  23. […] your favorite masterpiece from among a lengthy, unimaginative list of white guys from the U.S. and Western Europe. Two Coats of Paint responds […]

  24. […] The 64 seeds and the seeding method. The brackets and schedule. Round one voting: Part one. Part two. Part three. View Poll View Poll […]

  25. LM says:

    Open a few more books, take a few more page turns, dig deeper, ask yourself questions.. critical thinking 101?
    Write an essay?


  26. Doug Van de Zande says:

    Cindy Sherman couldn’t hold a foot candle to Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, or any of the hundred or so other photographers not mentioned.

  27. Mira says:

    I’m so over this list from tired list. Great comments above. Ditto.

  28. […] this relevant to my current participation in the response to Tyler Green’s mostly white male Art Madness II. I made up my own list, as did many others, and sent it to Sharon L. Butler who has assembled the […]

  29. […] The 64 seeds and the seeding method. The brackets and schedule. Round one results. View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View […]

  30. […] blow to the American white male artist: Further strife has exploded in the art blogosphere over Tyler Green’s 64-seed tourney to find the single greatest work of art made since 1945. What was originally intended as a bit of frivolity has become a serious indictment of enduring […]

  31. While I appreciate that this was a group effort- it was a good reminder to me of how important it is to encourage this generation’s women artists, and to be proactive in re-evaluating the last’s. How depressing it is that in one of the most forward thinking fields we have such a backwards view of our own history. Can I offer up Lynda Benglis as someone I would have enjoyed voting for?

  32. Ruben Nusz says:

    This whole list mess is almost too problematic to discuss seriously but I just can’t resist. Lets start with race and internet access. Only 5% of the African continent has entry and therefore would be excluded from the voting process. Though, who would they vote for if given the opportunity? There are no Africans let alone African American or black artists on this list besides Kerry James Marshall! Now, I understand that blacks weren’t even given the opportunity to vote in the US until twenty years after the beginning of the post-war period, but this list doesn’t stop at 1970–it runs clear into the 21st century! It therefore NEEDS to consider issues of race, gender and sexuality and artists dealing with these subjects (or not, should they be ethnic, non-white, homosexual or female and making work that doesn’t address their specific blessing, or the reverse…Kelly Walker is white after all).

    This, as many of you know, is just the tip of the iceberg. This “game” that Green has concocted is as real as poverty and as serious as art (the former I despise, the latter I love). While I would certainly include Rauschemberg’s erased DeKooning drawing on any list, I would not enjoy living in a post-war art world without David Hammonds, Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, RACHEL WHITEREAD, Yoko Ono, Martin Puryear, Linda Benglis, Nan Golden, Kara Walker, Lygia Clark, Eva Hesse, Tacita Dean, Ai Wei Wei, Bridget Riley, Jo Baer etc..etc…etc…

    Further, the idea of dismissing the multiple critiques of this contest as “just artworks” not affiliated with the artists themselves is completely nonsensical. Only a misguided critic would allow for that disconnect. Most artists see their works as synonymous with their senses of self. This was specifically addressed and admonished in the work of both Beuys and Warhol (I use these artists because the latter is heavily featured on this list).

    Okay, I must stop now. With all due respect to Mr. Green, Mr. Auping, Ms. Hileman, Mr. Molon, Mr. Schad and Ms. Siegel, THIS GAME MUST BE CHANGED! It may seem insignificant, but WE control the rules and the future of not only art and art history but our culture as a whole. Which of you wants to be associated with the misogynist/racist culturally fascist past and which of you wishes to represent our multicultural future?

    PS: Pardon the typos/poor grammar/misspellings and melodrama. Just whipped this up in a frenzy.
    PPS: Isn’t there a difference between post-war and contemporary?

  33. […] The 64 seeds, how they were chosen. View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll […]

  34. […] The 64 seeds, how they were chosen. View Poll View Poll View Poll View Poll « Weekend roundup Blog Home Favorite […]

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