Robert & Ethel Scull: Portrait of a Collection

April 13 - May 27, 2010


Press Release

Robert & Ethel Scull: Portrait of a Collection

April 13 - May 27, 2010

Press Preview: April 12th, 11 am to 1 pm
If you wish to attend the press preview, please contact Emily Salas at

Immediate Release


On Tuesday April 13th Acquavella Galleries will open an exhibition that documents the amazing, unerring eye and acquisitive passion of the colorful New York couple who dominated the contemporary art world in the 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibition continues through May 27th.

Robert and Ethel Scull were to art collectors of the 1960s what Andy Warhol was to the artists. Pioneer collectors of Pop art (known as the Mom and Pop of Pop), they were everywhere in the 1960s, a constant presence on the New York social scene.

The Sculls began acquiring major works by leading Abstract Expressionist artists in the mid-1950s (among them, Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman) and assembled a distinguished collection of New York School paintings. Motivated by a taste for the new, they soon moved on, becoming the major collectors of Pop art and the first owners of many works now considered masterpieces including James Rosenquist's monumental F-111, now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art; Andy Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills, which sold this last November for $43.8 million; Police Gazette, 1955, by Willem de Kooning; the iconic Ethel Scull 36 Times, Andy Warhol's first commissioned portrait; and Jasper Johns' Map, a gift from the Sculls to the Museum of Modern Art.

The Sculls' greatest passion was for Jasper Johns. Among Johns' earliest collectors, at one point they owned 22 major works. Seven are included in the exhibition, among them, the iconic Painted Bronze (Ale Cans), 1960; the 196l sculptmetal The Critic Sees; and Double Flag, which Scull commissioned in 1962.

"The Scull's collection spanned three generations of American art from Abstract Expressionism to Pop art and Earthworks. They had an eye for it all. It's quite extraordinary and unusual," says curator Judith Goldman. By the late 1960s, in his lesser known role as patron, Scull commissioned important works by Walter De Maria and Michael Heizer. In 1968, he could be found in a helicopter high above the Nevada desert looking at Michael Heizer' Nine Nevada Depressions, which he commissioned.

The high-profile Scull auction of 1973 and the estate sale after his death in 1986 afforded only brief viewings of what he and Ethel owned. Now the public can see the great works they acquired, often straight out of the artists' studios. The exhibition has been organized by writer and former Whitney museum curator Judith Goldman whose selection of key works, borrowed from major museums and private collections, presents a comprehensive portrait of the scope and quality of their taste.

The exhibition comprises paintings, sculpture, and drawings. In all, forty-four works by twenty-three artists: Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, William Crozier, Michael Heizer, Philip Guston, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Walter De Maria, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Lucas Samaras, George Segal, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still, Myron Stout, Mark di Suvero, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman and Peter Young.

Many works from important museum collections will be exhibited in the show. Participating museums include: Aichi Prefectural Museum, Nagoya; Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon; Daros Collection, Switzerland; The Detroit Institute of Fine Arts; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and the Whitney Museum of Art, New York.

Private collectors will be lending works that have not been exhibited in decades. Lenders include Steven and Alexandra Cohen, David L. Davies, Stefan T. Edlis, Irma and Norman Braman, Janie C. Lee, Shelley and Gilbert Harrison, Linda and Morton Janklow, Barbara and Richard Lane, Thompson and Caroline Dean, and Lisa and Steven Tananbaum. In addition, the Glenstone Foundation and The Brant Foundation are lending works.

Over one hundred additional works from the Scull collection are illustrated in the 288-page catalogue that features Judith Goldman's revelatory narrative, based on hitherto unpublished sources, of the dramas that accompanied Robert and Ethel Scull's ever- shifting relationships with artists, dealers, the press and each other.

Acquavella Galleries is open to the public Monday—Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., for the run of the exhibition. The gallery is located at 18 East 79th Street, N.Y. in a five-story French neo-classical townhouse. Telephone 212 734 6300. Fax 212 794 9394. Website:

For further information contact Emily Salas:

Selected Press

Art News   PDF (498 K)
Art Review   PDF (262 K)
Frankfurter Allgemaine Zeitung  Keine Angst vorm Neuen  May 16, 2010   PDF (675 K)
NY Times Magazine  Just Looking  May 7th   PDF (80 K)
The New York Observer  Schooled by the Sculls  April 21, 2010   PDF (118 K)
cityArts  Acquavella's monumental exhibition follows the whims of fortune  April 20, 2010   PDF (669 K)
New York Times  Appetite for New and Next New  April 15, 2010   PDF (43 K)
BlackBook  The Sculls' Warhols, Jasper Johns, and Rauschenbergs All Together Again  April 13, 2010   PDF (495 K)
New York Times  Showing a Couple's Eye for Art (and Money)  April 10, 2010   PDF (44 K)
Art and Auction  Driven to Collect  April 2010   PDF (4.9 MB)
New York Times  Scull Collection on View  April 1, 2010   PDF (1.4 MB)
Vogue  People Are Talking About: ART in the Picture  April 2010   PDF (2.8 MB)

More Info

Philip Guston
Jasper Johns
Willem de Kooning  Artist Page  View
Claes Oldenburg  Artist Page  View
James Rosenquist  Artist Page  View
Andy Warhol  Artist Page  View
Tom Wesselmann  Artist Page  View


Robert & Ethel Scull: Portrait of a Collection  POSTER  View

Robert & Ethel Scull  Portrait of a Collection  View

Acquavella Galleries

Acquavella Galleries, Inc.
18 East 79th Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
New York, NY 10075
212-734-6300 Phone
212-794-9394 Fax