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Robert Scull papers, 1955-circa 1984, bulk dates 1965-1970

Robert Scull papers, 1955-circa 1984, bulk dates 1965-1970

Scull, Robert C., 1917-1986

Art patron, Collector

Representative image for Robert Scull papers, 1955-circa 1984, bulk dates 1965-1970

This site provides access to the papers of Robert C. Scull in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2017, and total 2,106 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 2.0 linear feet

Summary: The Robert Scull papers measure 2 linear feet and date from 1955 to circa 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1965 to 1970. Throughout the 1960s, Robert Scull was a wealthy and prominent art collector of Abstract, Pop, and Minimalist art whose collection included works by Michael Heizer, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, among others. His papers include fourteen annotated appointment books, correspondence, financial and legal records, printed material, and photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Scull (1917-1986) was a prominent New York City and Connecticut collector of contemporary American art primarily during the 1960s.

Provenance

The 14 appointment books in the collection were donated in 1999 by Amy Newman, a writer, who received them from her friend, artist Chuck Close. Close received them from his brother-in-law, who found them in the trash, turned them over to Close, who, in turn, gave them to Newman. The rest of the papers were donated in 1993 by Robert Scull's widow, Stephanie.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Robert Scull Papers, 1955-circa 1984, bulk dates 1965-1970, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.sculrobe
Author
Finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno
Biographical/Historical note
Robert Scull (1917-1986) was a prominent New York City and Connecticut collector of contemporary American art primarily during the 1960s.
Robert Scull was born in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He dropped out of high school during the Depression and did various jobs while also taking art courses. He later became a freelance illustrator and industrial designer. When his wife Ethel’s father died, the couple inherited a successful taxi business which Scull expanded into the Super Operating Corporation with a fleet of 130 cabs.
Throughout the 1960s, Robert and Ethel Scull were avid art collectors who acquired contemporary American art works through dealers Richard Bellamy and Leo Castelli. Robert Scull’s patronage also helped fund art dealer Richard Bellamy’s Green Gallery in New York City for five years. Initially the Sculls focused on collecting American Abstract Expressionists and owned works by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and others. In 1965, the couple held their first auction and part of the profits helped establish the Robert and Ethel Scull Foundation, dedicated to financially assisting upcoming artists. The foundation commissioned environmental works from Michael Heizer and Walter de Maria and gave the artists stipends and even bought them food and supplies.
Around the mid-1960s, the Sculls also began collecting Pop Art and acquired the works of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol. In 1973, the couple sold 50 works from their personal collection of Pop Art through a Sotheby’s auction that yielded $2.2 million - record-breaking for sales of contemporary American art. The Sculls were criticized of social-climbing and profiteering by various people in the media and art world, including the artist Robert Rauschenberg.
In 1975, Robert Scull divorced Ethel and in 1978 he founded the Robert C. Scull Foundation which again assisted younger artists and arts organizations with a focus on contemporary art. Scull remarried and sold his taxi business sometime in the early 1980s, and moved to Warren, Connecticut. He died in 1986.
In 2010, the exhibition
Robert and Ethel Scull: Portrait of a Collection
was held at Acquavella Galleries in Manhattan.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 5 series.
Series 1: Appointment Books, 1955-1973 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-circa 1984 (0.2 linear feet; Box 3)
Series 3: Financial and Legal Records, 1969-1980 (0.1 linear feet; Box 3)
Series 4: Printed Material, circa 1982 (1 folder; Box 3)
Series 5: Photographs, 1960-circa 1980 (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 3-4)
Scope and Contents note
The Robert Scull papers measure 2 linear feet and date from 1955 to circa 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1965 to 1970. Throughout the 1960s, Robert Scull was a wealthy and prominent art collector of Abstract, Pop, and Minimalist art whose collection included works by Michael Heizer, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, among others. HIs papers include fourteen annotated appointment books, correspondence, financial and legal records, printed material, and photographs.
Fourteen appointment books include business dates, notes, and occasional sketches. Notes are on various subjects such as prices for paintings, appointments with art dealers, and visits with artists Mark di Suvero, Michael Heizer, Lucas Samaras, and others. There are sometimes items, i.e., business cards and receipts, interleaved between the pages of the books.
The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to Robert Scull from various artists, such as Walter De Maria and Michael Heizer. There is limited correspondence with museums and galleries.
Financial and legal records mostly consist of invoices from art dealers to Robert Scull for his purchases of John Tweddle’s artwork. Also included are art loan forms and charts tracking payments for various paintings and drawings. There are scattered legal papers on a settlement regarding payments for a group of paintings by Tweddle.
There is one exhibition catalog,
Street Painters: Feelism
(circa 1982), of printed material.
Photographs are of Robert Scull, friends, art dealers, artists, and art. Notable artists depicted include Alexander Calder, Gary Kuehn, Claes Oldenberg, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and many others. There are also images of sculptures, paintings, and other artwork by various artists.
Provenance
The 14 appointment books in the collection were donated in 1999 by Amy Newman, a writer, who received them from her friend, artist Chuck Close. Close received them from his brother-in-law, who found them in the trash, turned them over to Close, who, in turn, gave them to Newman. The rest of the papers were donated in 1993 by Robert Scull's widow, Stephanie.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art also has an oral history interview with Robert Scull conducted by Paul Cummings in 1972.
Processing Information note
The appointment books and papers, which arrived separately from 2 different donors, were merged and the collection was arranged, described, and prepared for digitization by Rihoko Ueno in 2016 with funding provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Walton Family Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include blank pages, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Robert Scull papers, 1955-circa 1984, bulk dates 1965-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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