Your must-read of the day: An exhaustive study of the midcentury art collection of Mike & Carol Brady (of The Brady Bunch fame, of course).
Blogger Kirk Demarais of We Are the Mutants has compiled highly detailed study that lists, identifies, and puts into context EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF ART found in the Brady home, and how it changed from season to season.
I’ve detailed the Brady family art collection and elaborated on the trends and styles that it represents. It began as a lark, but it became a personal opus that surpassed the simple room-by-room inventory I envisioned. In some cases specific artists, pieces, and manufacturers have been unearthed, filling a gaping informational void on the internet. My work is sure to be a treat for anyone who loves art, or The Brady Bunch, or tedious overanalysis.
From the iconic horse statue in the living room (I know you remember it) to the abstract modern painting one the staircase, to Greg’s surfing poster “that proves that Greg’s love for the sport wasn’t dampened by his near-death accident caused by a Tiki curse” – it’s all here.
A few highlights below (although I insist you check out the entire post. Really. It’s what the internet was MADE FOR)
The Family Room (above)
During the first season, the family room walls are dominated by imposing scenes of duck-filled marshlands, one of them featured in the hotel in the pilot episode, which seems to suggest that the Bradys stole it. For decades, these “hunter’s delights” were omnipresent on walls across America.
It wasn’t long before the set dressers replaced the ducks with an eclectic arrangement of art that looks fresh from a flea market. However, the mismatched styles and themes get a pass since they give the wood paneled den an appropriately casual vibe. The centerpiece is a portrait of a young Native American girl. It’s one of two seemingly identical pieces. Its match is usually on the rarely-seen adjacent wall. (The tendency to break up sets of art is repeated throughout the house.) This is the work of Gerda Christoffersen, a Danish-born artist who produced a multitude of prints that usually feature Native American kids. The illustration foreshadows “The Brady Braves” episode in which the family is adopted into an Arizonian tribe after Bobby and Cindy fed a lost boy beans from the battery compartment of a flashlight.
One element that survived the entire duration of the show is the set of mixed media pieces covered with things you might find in a pair of pants: keys, coins, and a pocket watch, all embedded in a clay-like substance. This has all the makings of a huge ‘70s fad that never was. Near the kitchen entrance is a painting of a commercial fishing boat that replaced a season one starburst clock, which was at the time approaching passé. The artist is a mystery. The heavy-handed strokes and blocky structure give it a post-impressionistic feel. Perhaps it subliminally influenced the Brady’s purchase and restoration of a sailboat in the episode “Law and Disorder.”
The Boys’ Bedroom
The Impressionism-influenced clown by the door is hard to miss. Still, it’s easily mistaken for a hobo in a blood-stained shirt. It was there from the beginning, and early on it had the wall to itself. The clown briefly traded places with a group of baseball photos, but ended up surrounded by them for the remainder of the series. It’s easy to imagine a lost episode where Greg and Bobby lock horns over the wall space before arriving at this compromise. Another, sadder clown can be seen over Greg’s bed in a couple of episodes. In fact, they come from a set of four prints, all signed “Bardot.” My gut tells me that this is another corporate appellation; the internet doesn’t prove otherwise, but I can’t be sure. The set was a mail-order promotion that ran in 1965 in The Saturday Evening Post. It sold for one dollar, plus ten cents postage. The business that supplied them was called Great Art Treasures, a New York City company that also offered a similar collection of Keane-inspired “Big-Eyed Moppet” prints the same year.
Two nautical scenes can always be found above Peter’s bed. There are at least seven maritime works in the house, enough to qualify as another full-blown artistic theme. They fit the room’s red, white, and blue color scheme while matching the wallpaper’s pattern of ships and world maps (later updated to Victorian-style print advertisements).
The paintings were no stranger to the habits of television brothers: they also hung on a bedroom wall in Paramount’s My Three Sons (1960-1965). These views of the sea provided Peter with a refuge during adolescent trials like his defeat at the hands of Buddy Hinton, his forced stint as a Sunflower Girl, and the “pork chops and apple sauce” identity crisis.
The Upstairs Hallway (above)
The stretch of hall that connects all the bedrooms is a monument to inconsistency. It’s as if the cast and crew held art throwing contests between takes and whatever happened to be stuck on the walls ended up in the next scene. It’s also a graveyard for art that’s been ousted from the rest of the house. Generic florals, landscapes, and street scenes are common. One exception is a short-lived print of William Harnett’s The Old Violin from 1886.
Continue reading here.