For years there have been hours and hours of precious time wasted reading about the side bets between clashing Super Bowl cities. Usually these non-creative bets are between local politicians who only follow local sports because an adviser suggests it would be a good publicity stunt; a chance to rub elbows with the blue-collar common folk of their city.
Well, here in Indianapolis we take our sports seriously. So much so that even our institutions of fine art are backing the Indianapolis Colts and their bid to bring a second Lombardi trophy back to the Circle City.
Just what, pray tell, am I speaking of? The Indianapolis Museum of Art has made a bet with the New Orleans Museum of Art in which the winning city of Super Bowl 44 this weekend will get a prized piece from the losing city’s art collection. The best part about the whole bet is that both of the head curators of each museum talked some smack about each other.
I don’t know about you, but I love an art fanatic who not only follows sports, but is willing to put their collection where their mouth is.
Last Monday IMA’s director Max Anderson and NOMA’s director E. John Bullard took to Twitter and email to trash talk one another. First Anderson proposed that if the Saints won the IMA would loan an Ingrid Calame painting to NOMA (of course he also Tweeted “We’re already spackling the wall where the NOMA loan will hang,” so he’s feeling pretty confident) Bullard took that as an insult, emailing back:
“Max Anderson must not really believe the Colts can beat the Saints in the Super Bowl. Otherwise why would he bet such an insignificant work as the Ingrid Calame painting? Let’s up the ante. The New Orleans Museum of Art will bet the three-month loan of its $4 million Renoir painting, Seamstress at Window, circa 1908, which is currently in the big Renoir exhibition in Paris. What will Max wager of equal importance? Go Saints!”
On Tuesday Anderson responded, Tweeting to NOMA: “We’ll see the sentimental blancmange by that “China Painter” and raise you a proper trophy: [A Jean-Valentine Morel jeweled cup, which won the Grand Medal at the 1855 Paris World Fair.]”
NOMA’s curator was did not think this was a worthy bet and responded as so:
“I am amused that Renoir is too sweet for Indianapolis. Does this mean that those Indiana corn farmers have simpler tastes? If so why would Max offer us that gaudy Chalice — just looks like another over-elaborate Victorian tchotchke. Let’s get serious. Each museum needs to offer an art work that they would really miss for three months. What would you like, Max? A Monet, a Cassatt, a Picasso, a Miro? Sorry but we have no farm scenes or portraits of football players to send you.”
A couple hours later, Anderson replied on his Twitter, “Colts will win; here’s how sure I am: the IMA’s four-by-six-foot JMW Turner for Vigée Lebrun’s Portrait of Marie Antoinette.”
Bullard responded several hours later with this:
“I’m glad to see that Max has gotten serious. Certainly the Turner painting in Indianapolis is a masterpiece, worthy of any great museum. Regretably the size, over ten feet high with its original elaborate frame, and the fragile condition of New Orleans’ Portrait of Marie Antoinette prohibits it from traveling. I propose instead our large and beautiful painting by Claude Lorrain, Ideal View of Tivoli, 1644. This great French artist is considered the father of landscape painting and was one of Turner’s great inspirations. These two paintings would look splendid hanging together in New Orleans — or miracle of miracles, in Indianapolis.”
It is on, Indy. Not only is it possible that the Indianapolis Colts will bring a second Super Bowl title back in three years to their adoring Hoosier faithful. But the IMA will house yet another piece of masterful art work.
So this Sunday, when you are squeezing yourself onto a couch full of Indianapolis sports fans going crazy for the Colts, impart a little nugget of knowledge on your fellow fans. Tell them that it is not just pigskin bragging rights on the line. There is a possible addition to Indianapolis’ art scene waiting on this outcome.
If and when the Colts claim victory in Super Bowl 44, you will have two new things to do in Indianapolis. First, you and yours will need to get to downtown Indianapolis and the Soldier and Sailors Monument in Monument Circle to see the Colts victory parade. Than it is over to the IMA to take in its newest acquisition. You will need to hurry too. The winning city will hold its winnings from the losing city for three months only.
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