Art Reflections

Packers Played For Art

Who says sports fans are not visual art fans? Most who tuned into the Super Bowl to see the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Green Bay Packers were there for the win, the food, the crazy commercials, and of course cold hard cash. Betting on the big game is a tradition decades old.

So why shouldn’t Pittsburgh bet a Renoir that the Packers will win? The Carnegie Art Museum bet Renoir’s Bathers With Crab.

The Carnegie Art Museum bet Renoir’s Bathers With Crab.

The Milwaukee Museum of Art called that bet and placed Gustave Caillebotte’s Boating on the Yerres on the table.

Gustave Caillebotte's Boating on the Yerres

The “Super Bowl Art Bet” is an annual tradition among the art museums, according to current employee of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Chelsea Kelly (who is also, interestingly, a former employee of the Carnegie Art Museum). While Christina Aguilera searched her hand for lyrics to the national anthem, were the two teams aware that two paintings over a century old were on the line? Bet not.

We know the outcome… The Renoir is going to Milwaukee.

But what’s a wager without a little talk to back it up. Here’s what the directors of our respective art museums had to say.

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, – said Keegan of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

In Pittsburgh, we believe trash talk is bad form. 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,” said Zelevansky, of Carnegie Museum of Art.

That excellent form from the Carnegie Museum of Art and their Steelers did not ensure that the Caillebotte would hang on the museum walls. Instead, Carnegie will be making a temporary loan of its Renoir to the Milwaukee Art Musuem. So what does someone on the inside have to say?

…Our Senior Director of Marketing told me that originally the Carnegie had gone after our famous Fragonard The Shepherdess painting (check it out on our Collection website, or read about it from Third Coast Digest’s Tom Strini). We agreed–on the condition that the Carnegie put their Vincent Van Gogh Wheat Fields after the Rain on the line. At that, they balked and the Renoir and Caillebotte were decided upon. Vicki is convinced that this betrays the Carnegie’s lack of confidence in their football team, and I’m pretty sure the majority of Museum staff would agree… Burn! -Chelsea Kelley

The loan of either painting is traditionally temporary, and the Renoir’s official date of stay at Milwaukee has not yet been determined.

About the Author

Tiffany Chaney is a freelance writer, artist and graphic designer residing in North Carolina. In 2012, her first poetry collection Between Blue and Grey was released. Find out more about her at