Over the next couple of weeks we art lovers will hear lots about Eli Manning’s ability to author game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. We’ll read about how Tom Brady is the golden boy of National Football League quarterbacks, and that he’s married to some model. We’ll hear about how New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s daughter married one of Coughlin’s offensive lineman, making Coughlin father-in-law to one of his best players. We’ll see that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has deplorable fashion sense.
Phooey on all that. It’s time for the third annual Modern Art Notes Super Bowl Bet, in which the art museums in the two Super Bowl cities wager loans of major artworks on the outcome of the game. In Year One, then-Indianapolis Museum of Art director Max Anderson disparaged an artwork New Orleans Museum of Art director John Bullard proposed to bet as “sentimental blancmange,” which was immediately recognized as one of the great insults in Super Bowl history. NOMA ended up with one of Indianapolis’s best JMW Turners. Last year the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum played their paintings close to the vest and handled the whole thing via quiet, polite press releases. It was much less fun, but Milwaukee still got a CMOA Renoir.
This year’s Super Bowl of American football matches the New York Giants against the New England Patriots, New York vs. Boston. Because each city has several marquee art museums, I’m challenging two institutions in each city to step forward and to put their art where their communities’ mouthiness is. The logos of those four museums are at the top of this post: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Harvard Art Museums.
Make big wagers, y’all. Maybe MoMA and Harvard should bet their Max Beckmann self-portraits, and the winning museum could have an installation of Maxes. I’d love to see the Met and the MFA play to an old Venetian rivalry: Say, a Tintoretto up against a Titian. Or maybe the four museums will go supersize, and make two bets each. Who has other ideas? Let the (real) game begin…