This just in: The Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art have agreed to a Super Bowl bet! Even better: The museums have put major works by major artists on the line. The bet continues an annual tradition begun last year when MAN instigated a wager between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Both museums are offering up significant impressionist paintings: The Carnegie Museum of Art has wagered Pierre Renoir’s playful, fleshy Bathers with a Crab (cicra 1890-99, above) on a Pittsburgh Steelers victory. The Milwaukee Art Museum has put on the line Gustave Caillebotte’s serene Boating on the Yerres (1877, below). (Coincidentally, the Caillebotte was one of the paintings I suggested here. I completely whiffed on the Renoir.) Milwaukee is the nearest city to Green Bay (pop. 100,000), which does not have an art museum.
The two museums have not yet determined the dates of the loan.
Either loan would provide something new to museum visitors in Wisconsin and western Pennsylvania: According to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s online collection site, the museum does not have a Renoir nude. (MAM’s only Renoir is this charming impressionist river scene.) While the Carnegie has a good impressionist collection, including significant works by Monet, Degas, Pissaro and Sisley, it does not have a Caillebotte.
MAM and CMOA were quick to express interest in the bet once MAN suggested it on Sunday night. MAM director Daniel Keegan is a Green Bay native and I’m told he was particularly eager to fly the Packers flag. “I’m confident that we will be enjoying the Renoir from Carnegie Museum of Art very soon. I look forward to displaying it where the public can enjoy it and be reminded of the superiority of the Green Bay Packers,” Keegan said in a press release.
CMOA director Lynn Zelevansky shot back at Keegan, also in the kind of press release that art museums only issue when they’re having fun. “In Pittsburgh, we believe trash talk is bad form,” she said. “We let the excellence of our football team, and our collection, speak for itself. It will be my great pleasure to see the Caillebotte from the Milwaukee Art Museum hang in our galleries.”
Coverage of the bet: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Mary Louise Schumacher on Art City. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch calls this “the best Super Bowl bet.” Fox Sports. NYT. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kottke.org. Boston Globe. Front page of the Milwaukee J-S. NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
(The Renoir is oil on canvas, 21 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. It was acquired through the generosity of Mrs. Alan M. Scaife and family. Photo: Tom Little. The Caillebotte is oil on canvas, 40 3/4 x 61 3/8 in., a gift of the Milwaukee Journal Company, in honor of Miss Faye McBeath. Photo: John R. Glembin.)