UPDATE: *The bet is done.* Art museum director Super Bowl trash talk: It's on.
In response to the proposed Super Bowl bet between the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art about which I posted on Monday, NOMA director E. John Bullard has come roaring back in defense of his Saints.
First, some background: On Monday, IMA director Max Anderson initially proposed wagering an IMA loan of an Ingrid Calame painting. That was a nice choice... but apparently Anderson wasn't too worried about having to pay off the bet: "We're already spackling the wall where the NOMA loan will hang," he tweeted.
On Tuesday morning Bullard emailed MAN HQ:
"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 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!"
Anderson TwitPics from his seat at the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium. I expect a response...
UPDATE, Tuesday, 2:20pm EST: SNAP! Anderson tweets back at 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.]"
UPDATE: Tuesday, 11:20pm EST: These museums are getting serious.
In an email I received while I was, er, on my way to dinner, Bullard raised the stakes: "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."
Ouch!: I suspect Bullard knows that the Indianapolis Museum of Art actually owns a farm. (It's part of the IMA's endowment.)
A couple hours after Bullard's rejoinder, Anderson replied to both Bullard and to @NOMA via 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."
[The Lebrun, painted in 1788 when Marie Antoinette was queen and just a year before the French Revolution, is the middle image. The Turner, from 1800, is the bottom image.]
UPDATE, Wednesday, 1205pm EST: You can tell these guys are now down to brass tacks. Here's the latest from NOMA's Bullard:
"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. [At left.] 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."
Bullard is right: They would.
UPDATE: Wednesday, 130pm EST: We have a deal!
From IMA's Anderson via Twitter: "Deal -- Claude for Turner. Two masters in spirited competition across the channel, and between our fair cities. Go Colts!"
And in polite, collegial reply, NOMA's Bullard: "Max is a gracious opponent. Thanks for accepting the wager of a Claude from New Orleans for a Turner from Indianapolis. But this is definitely the Saints year. They are the Dream Team and in New Orleans we know that dreams come true. Geaux Saints!!!"
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