Pop Goes the Weasel

What are the chances that I'll discover the next big art movement, purchase an entire show's worth of loot, and make a fortune before the rest of the art world even knows what hit them? Probably about as good as inventing time travel. But as unlikely as it sounds, way back in the early 60s, Robert and Ethel Scull had the prescience (and cash) to make pop art The Next Big Thing.

robert ethel scull

Robert and Ethel Scull, flanked by James Rosenquist, sculptor George Segal, and a little someone you may have heard of named Andy Warhol (played here by Andy Warhol). Not too shabby a lineup of art buddies, and in fact the Sculls had the foresight to be first in line to commission a Warhol portrait:

warhol ethel scull

Ethel Scull 36 Times

As reported by The New York Times, the story of The Scull collection is almost laughable. They bought enormous quantities of what is now blue chip art at bargain basement prices. Somehow an entire Jasper Johns show (at Leo Castelli's now famous gallery, no less) was overlooked -- poor JJ didn't sell a thing until Mr. Scull scooped up the whole show. He also snagged a Rauschenburg combine painting for $900.

Oh, and a Warhol canvas for $3500.

When many of the works they collected in the 60s were auctioned off during the 70s and 80, the art world was "scandalized" at the profits these pieces yielded, seeing such brash and aggressive collecting as crass and vulgar.

warhol 200 dollar bills

But what's really funny is that, compared to today's ridiculously inflated art market -- which increasingly treats art as a commodity to be traded exclusively within the highest echelon of wealth and privilege -- they didn't even make that much money. To wit, their Warhol piece 200 Dollar Bills sold at a 1986 auction for the paltry sum of $385,000. At a Sotheby's auction last fall it sold for $46 million.

Which makes each dollar bill worth $230,000.

jasper johns map

Here's a fancy Jasper Johns painting in the home of Agnes Gund. A similar piece from the original Scull collection is on view at Acquavella Galleries.

Well, Robert and Ethel, this round up of pop hits is for you, because I like the way you think, and I'm glad you rescued pop art from the gaping maws of history. Ok, that may be a small largeish overstatement, but without your keen sensibility, who knows whether the Jasper Johns show would have sold, or whether Andy's work would be as widespread as it is today. Or whether Pruitt and Early would have made these post pop homages to Warhol's Campbell Soup prints:

pruitt early


Hilarious. The rest of my decidedly less humorous roundup is as follows:

warhol living etc

Living Etc


Reto Guntli

warhol elvis

via Head Over Heels

warhol todd romano

Todd Romano


Martha Angus via Eye Spy

pop art

Reto Guntli



angie hranowsky

Angie Hranowsky

Even though their contemporaries felt the Sculls made out like bandits, you get the sense that their philosophy of collecting was much different than today's point of view. Scull's son Jonathan says that his father "bought all that art because he was crazy for it, and nothing was going to get in his way." Seems a far cry from today's collectors, who more often than not view paintings as investments.

On the other hand, if the Sculls hadn't discovered these guys, maybe Jonathan could afford to buy back the painting that Jasper Johns gave him as a Bar Mitzvah present.

I suppose being ahead of one's time does have its disadvantages.

Rip Van Winkle

Every year I start off with a new laundry list of resolutions -- eat better, exercise (ha!), make stuff, be cooler -- but this year there's only one resolution that really matters: LEAVE THE HOUSE. Yes friends, I am finally out of the Guantanamo Bay stage of parenthood and IT'S AWESOME. Baby Ike is now magically entertained by salt shakers and menus, and wouldn't you know that mama's boy loves a good bargain. Whew! Thank jeebus he takes after me and not his thriftphobic daddy, because then I'd have to check the return policy on both of them. So, Karly and I took the Ikester out on thrift rounds recently, and I managed to score some great finds with my lucky charm in tow. In the spirit of my house sharing resolution, I snapped some pics so you could bask in the glory of my goodies, as well as in my delicious new freedom.

thrift plant stand

I almost had to scrap with some chick over my excellent new plant stand, which came from the Salvation Army for $25. Kinda steep, but it's heavy and has a mirrored bottom, and the middle thingie moves. Plus someone else wanted it, so of course that made me like it even more. But it does look pretty smooth with my new tulip chair, which is in dire need of a cushion. One day at a time...

plates lichtenstein

I totally had the Lichtenstein post in mind when I picked up this set of dishes, although Karly says they look like a Bill Cosby sweater... we can both be right, can't we? $30 for the entire set, although I need more bowls. I found some replacements online, but two bowls cost as much as I paid for the entire set. Uh, no.

lichtenstein hostel

A closeup of the totally tubular 80s graphics. The Hunny stacked them all OCD like. I'm planning to display these babies on our newly installed kitchen shelves, which I was far too lazy to photograph today. What do you people expect??? I can't shop, and take pictures, AND clean. Priorities, priorities.

sweden teapot vintage

I snagged this vintage teapot for $1.99. It's marked Made in Sweden, which probably means it's from Ikea. Still, he is very handsome, no?

ike's room

Ike picked out a few things for his room, too, like this Red Cross lightbox for $4.99, which is brand spankin' new. The hot gold lion came from Zid Zid, courtesy of Raina; Ike can look, but he can't touch mama's favorite stuffed animal. You can blame Karly for the boa constricted nightmare clown.

ike's room

You can also blame Karly for spotting this badass giraffe head, a steal for only $4.99. Say what?! Yeah. It's HUGE.


Speaking of huge, these roided out lamps make Lou Ferigno look positively diminutive. I'm planning to give them a fresh coat of white paint from tip to toe, and top them with black shades for my new Bauhaus bedroom. Hopefully my nightstands won't buckle beneath them.

I scored some other sweet stuff, like a giant vintage painting and a ginormous mirrored picture frame (apparently I have contracted a severe case of megalomania), but I haven't found a home for them yet -- by which I mean they're still stacked in the entryway. The Hunny is not excited that I'm back to shopping, not that I'm going to let it stop me from adding to the piles of unused lamps, chairs and frames I'm "collecting."

Doesn't he realize that I have six months of thrifting to catch up on?

The Lichtenstein Look

Finally! It seems there's a home design trend that matches my unwanted yet rapidly growing Fisher Price menagerie (note to Kartell: please make stylish baby toys. Hurry). Collectors and art enthusiasts have long appreciated the pop paintings of heavyweight Roy Lichtenstein, but now it seems that Lichtenstein's style is increasingly interpreted through textiles, patterns and paint. Yep. Primary colors are back in funky fresh force, along with a cartoonish panoply of stripes, ben-day dots and blocky solids.

roy lichtenstein

Lichtenstein himself did a series of interiors in his trademark style, hinting at the shape of things to come. Funny that he even anticipated the avalanche of Warhol's Mao paintings that covered the walls of bazillions of featured homes this past year.

roy lichtenstein

This room styled by Jeffrey Miller owes more than a wink and a nod to the piece above. But you don't have to be so literal to reference the look.

christopher coleman

Of course, having a polka dotted ceiling like this room designed by Christopher Coleman helps.

tobias rehberger

And a glut of seizure inducing stripes can't hurt, right? Cafeteria designed by Tobias Rehberger.

india mahdavi

Obviously, what you really need is a giant stylized glamazon in the manner of Lichtenstein's famously blond heroines.

india mahdavi

The top half of this India Mahdavi designed restaurant is no less comic book chic.

max azria home

Not to worry -- you don't have to have a towering Barbie in your house (but what girl doesn't secretly want one?). Playful elements scattered here and there create major impact, as in this room in fashion designer Max Azria's home.

missoni home

Just try and stop me from swathing my next couch in these Lichtenstein inspired Missoni prints.

missoni shower

And I wouldn't be mad if my next house had a Missoni colorblock shower in it, either.

If you're feeling a bit overstimulated by all this crazy bizness, consider limiting the look to a simple painting by the man himself.

lichtenstein hostel

No, not like this hostel, which feels more tragic than comic. Although, note how easy it would be to paint a simple, similar mural in chic black and white...

roy lichtenstein

I was thinking more like this room designed by Vicente Wolf, where traditional furnishings are seriously lightened up by the addition of one of Lichtenstein's mod paintings.

roy lichtenstein

The flowers are killing me, but you get the idea.

roy lichtenstein

Personally, I like the pop look best when it's paired with contrasting elements. The Calder mobile in similar style and colors competes with the painting in Patsy Tarr's home.

jeffrey miller

On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with going full frontal on a small space, like this quirky vignette styled by Jeffrey Miller.

roy lichtenstein

And what better than a Lichtenstein bust to make a popping fresh statement. Yet another idea for the reinvention of Beethoven?