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.

Maybe Navy?

I have a red dining room. With orange chairs. And a sleazy velvet painting of a tiger. And a zebra rug. It might be -- maybe -- a little much. Now I love me some drama, but I don't want my house to look like a psychotic palm beach housewife took acid and decided to spruce things up a bit. So, dear readers, I am enlisting your help today. I am offering up my dining room like a wee sacrificial lamb for your entertainment. You know how it's really easy to go to a friend's house and rearrange furniture and pick paint colors and choose a new couch (all within the span of an hour), but sometimes it's nigh IMPOSSIBLE to make decisions at your own home? Well, sometimes is now. Yes, I'm asking for advice, and I know that several of you are interior designers, so come out, come out, wherever you are. Your mission -- if you choose to accept it -- is the first room I decorated in our first house. So it's feeling a bit 2007:

dining room

Now don't wuss out on me, ok? Before you start formulating strategies, let me say that I know the plant stand needs to get painted black and the pot is fugly, so just pretend I already fixed those things. That's what I usually do.

Here are main the issues at hand: Should I keep the red and get a new rug? I'm considering this relatively inexpensive hemp and white leather flat weave rug from Overstock (it's reversible! Yaaaaaay!):

overstock rug

Or should I paint the walls navy blue instead? Somehow, I feel like I could keep the rug if I painted the walls navy, even though zebra is officially double dead. Sadly, the rug, at $350 buckaroos, is far and away the most expensive thing in that room. What have I learned from this experience? I will never buy a patterned rug again.  Also, I will never buy an expensive white rug again, because my cat LOVES to puke on rugs. (In case you're wondering, Folex is the best carpet cleaner ever.)

The suspect in question:


Hina Hina thinks she's modeling for Cat Fancy magazine. She's so vain that I had to turn on the vacuum cleaner to get her off the table and out of my photo shoot. But I digress (surprising, right?). Other possible points of contention include the always popular orange chairs with red walls combo. Yep. And an orange tiger painting to boot (but he's such a handsome fellow).


Obviously blue and orange would look better together... but maybe I shouldn't have the tulip chairs with that table, anyway? I actually have 6 of the Danish ropecord chairs, but 3 of them need repairs. Two are currently in the living room, to be used when we pull the leaves out of the table. Also, I used to have the tulip table in the dining room, but it was too small for company, so it's now my office desk. That's pretty much the catalog of available furniture, and I'm definitely not buying any more. (Have you checked the Dow today? Wowsers).

And what do you think about the lamps? I'm kind of on the hunt for new shades at the very least, but I only buy secondhand stuff, so that has limited my options severely (that, and my $50 budget).

One last teensy consideration:


My humble kitchen, as viewed from the laundry room. (Don't worry -- it doesn't actually look like a cubist painting in real life. It's just the camera lens.) The kitchen shares a wall (along the right side) as well as a clear line of sight with the dining area, so it has to be the same color as the dining room, and I think the kitchen is really cute in red. We're planning to knock all the upper cabinets out and install shelves (can you see from the upper right hand corner that the cabinets float over our bar? It's WEIRD. There's like, 8 million of them, too. We have 75 gargantuan square feet of countertops, all with cabinets hovering overhead. They must have cut down an entire forest to make those stupid cabinets. But, alas, this tragic story is way too big to be contained within this little post). Anyway, the point is that navy would have to look good in here, too.

So, I'm not sold on the navy, but I'm definitely considering it. I have a lot of black furniture, and most people surveyed say that blue and black together looks bruised, but I'm thinking the right color of blue would be ok. Kind of like the color on this crazy rocking chair that doesn't go anywhere in my house

rocking chair:

And here are some navy rooms to help you further visualize the possibilities. I spotted several of them at Alicia B Designs, where she did this fantastic post on dark rooms... Worth a look.


This one is from Todd Alexander Romano Designs, and honestly, I'm not even sure if this color is navy. Or purple. Or charcoal. But it's pretty, and my couch in the living room (visible from the kitchen and dining room) is the same color leather as those chairs.


These are from Domino, and I like the one on the right, but lefty is a little too blue for my purposes... I think?

drake design

Navy grasscloth from Drake Design Associates. That desk is Ohmigod gorgeous. Drool. Drool. Drool.

kristi lei

Somehow navy and zebra is a popular combination... I guess it's slightly less obvious than red and zebra. Courtesy of Kristi Lei Interiors, this is a trifle froof and poof for my taste, but the paint color is nice.

I am a little worried that navy will feel stuffy and too... federal. We don't have an eat in kitchen, so I'd like to keep my dining room fun and convivial. Not like these rooms:

scheerer roberts

It's not that I don't like these rooms from Markham Roberts and Tom Scheerer, but they're just not for me.

I think if I do navy, I will definitely have to do some punchy accents, sort of like this vignette from Domino:


Ok, friends, I'm ready. What do you think? tell me what to do. Don't be shy. Do your worst best. If I like you advice I might even take it...