Pork Chops and Apple Sauce: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection

By Kirk Demarais / March 6, 2017

brady-bunch-staircaseThe world of The Brady Bunch can be defined by a conspicuous style. After all, the setting is an architect father’s passion project, accoutered with what Carol Brady once described as Danish Modern furniture. The family’s fashion arc went from Ozzie and Harriet in season one to post-sixties extremes in season three. Yet the Brady’s choice of household artwork seems oddly uninspired. Apart from a few exceptions, Brady wall art is practically invisible, begging to be upstaged by Mike’s designs, which include both the house and the family that lives there. What follows is an examination of that which is meant to be ignored.

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.

To point out the generic nature of the Brady’s artistic taste isn’t to say they weren’t on trend. After World War II, art was industrialized like never before in order to meet the demand for something to cover the walls of tens of thousands of new American homes. Companies like Turner Wall Accessory produced and reproduced hundreds of prints with the home decor market in mind. During this era, original art was often replicated by an assembly line of contract artists working under shared pseudonyms. The subjects were intentionally innocuous in contrast to the art world at large, where bold personalities emerged to break every conceivable convention. Like most Americans, the Brady’s humble art collection largely consists of commercially produced prints. This makes the family seem real and relatable to the viewer—until you remember that they have a live-in housemaid.

The production designers didn’t construct the Brady aesthetic from scratch. According to the The Brady Bunch Blog, the sets are full of props and artwork that previously appeared in other Paramount-produced television shows. There’s little chance of finding intentional parallels between the characters and their surroundings, but that needn’t stop us from applying our own meaning. It’s also worth noting that much of the art is repeatedly repositioned throughout the course of the show. It is unclear whether this is the result of less-than-vigilant set dressers or a class five haunting.

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Top: living room horse sculpture; bottom left: horse painting at the top of the stairs; bottom right: horse statuette in the family room

The Living Room

The horse statue is perhaps the most iconic piece on the series because of its noticeable spot in the main room. Its onscreen career rivals that of many actors. Prior to the Bradys, the prop showed up in the film Bell, Book, and Candle (1958), as well as the TV series Bewitched (1964-1972). After its role on The Brady Bunch, it appeared on Mannix in 1975 (on which Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady, was also a regular.) The horse emerged again in the 1981 spin-off The Brady Brides before finding its way back to the base of the stairs in the 1990 dramedy The Bradys. The quickly-cancelled series portrayed Marcia as an alcohol abuser, Peter as a womanizer, and Bobby as a paralyzed race car driver—and it still had a laugh track.

Lengthy online searches for this particular horse sculpt have yielded no results. However, it is styled after countless prancing horse statues from China’s Tang Dynasty. During that period horses were a sign of prosperity and a major component of the military. This isn’t the only horse in the Brady home, either. A painting of a stylized steed is seen at the top of the stairs during all but the first season, and a smaller horse statuette is on a table in the family room.

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Top: abstract Modern painting; middle right: the painting appearing on “The Mod Squad” (screenshot courtesy of The Brady Bunch Blog); bottom: painting of Place de la Concorde outside Mike’s home office

The abstract Modern painting behind the main staircase is also memorable due to its placement, size, and style. Pixelated screenshots reveal no signature to demystify its origin. We know who designed the Great Pyramids, but the identity of this contemporary master is lost to the ages. Presumably, the piece was a studio prop, given that it appeared on The Mod Squad (1968-1973) a year before The Brady Bunch aired. The painting serves as a Brady fan’s Rorschach test; it’s unclear whether it is entirely non-objective, or represents something of this earth. I’m confident that it’s a riverside city under a rain of orb-like doomsday asteroids. Abstract art has been around since the early 20th century, and it received a jolt in the 1920s when Cubism inspired a frenzy of offshoot -isms such as Futurism, Vorticism, Neoplasticism, and Purism. The United States took a couple of decades to warm up to it, but by the 1950s mass market art sellers jumped on the imitable trend and produced a soup of abstract compositions like the one in question.

At the end of the hall leading to Mike’s home office is a piece depicting the Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris, painted by Marcel Masson under the pseudonym Antoine Blanchard. From this vantage point we can see the Fountain of River Commerce, and the ancient Luxor Obelisk. It serves as a visual respite where Mike fixes his eyes as he transitions to his home drafting table. It’s a pleasant scene that’s both familiar and foreign. It’s everything that a painting in a hallway should be.

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Top: Painting of ruins left of living room doorway; bottom left: painting of ruins in Mike’s home office; bottom middle: painting of ruins in Mike’s place of employment; bottom right: painting of ruins in the family room

To the left of the front door is a tall rendering of Greco-Roman ruins. This is a Brady motif that may go unnoticed despite appearing throughout the home. A similar companion to this piece is in Mike’s home office, and occasionally the two paintings swap places. (The first print previously appeared on I,Spy in 1968.) Mike can admire ruins throughout the day thanks to a vibrant painting of decaying columns at his workplace. Back at home there’s a small illustration of a weathered colonnade in the family den that rarely makes it on camera. The latter pieces have all the earmarks of Vanguard Studios, a company that mass produced wide format “drip paintings” on luminous backdrops.

Pictures of Classical architecture may seem like a nod to Mike’s career, but the choice follows the mid-century passion for decorating with time-ravaged monuments. The artistic fascination with ruins goes back a few hundred years. Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) was known for the subject matter. A slightly more contemporary example would be Caspar David Friedrich’s work, including Temple of Juno in Agrigento, circa 1828-30. Ruins are great because they allow moderns to admire ancient ingenuity while still feeling superior to the failed civilizations.

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Above: duck paintings in season one family room; inlay: starburst clock in season one family room

The Family Room

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.

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Left: art arrangement in family room; right: two illustrations by Gerda Christoffersen

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.

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Top left: “Old Boat Works” gold etching by Lionel Barrymore; top right: “Home Port” gold etching by Lionel Barrymore; middle: Barrymore’s gold etchings on wall in the family room; bottom left: packaging for Lionel Barrymore prints; bottom right: “Water Front” gold etching by Lionel Barrymore

Flanking the papoose are two gold foil etchings by artist and actor Lionel Barrymore, who is brother to John, uncle to Drew, and best known for his role as Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Originally etched on copper in the 1940s, this series was, according to a description that came with the product, “accidentally discovered…by a long-time friend and associate.” Soon his work was “brilliantly enhanced by the luster of gold foil” and sold posthumously. Colorized versions were also made available, just like It’s a Wonderful Life. This is truly art for the masses. Numerous editions were released in the 1960s and ’70s by Brown & Bigelow, an outfit that offered promotional advertising premiums in the form of ashtrays, pasta strainers, and risqué letter openers. The company also produced a deluge of ready-to-frame prints with subject matter ranging from Cassius Coolidge’s poker playing dogs to etched foil likenesses of their holinesses, Pope John Paul I and II. The online auction market is flooded with Barrymore’s portfolios, many of them marked as corporate gifts. One says, “Presented with the good wishes of the Hoefer Funeral Home of Higginsville, MO.”

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Top left: painting of the Arc de Triomphe in the family room; top right: painting of the Moulin Rouge in the family room; bottom: examples of Parisian street paintings done in a similar style

Below the etchings are a pair of painted Parisian street scenes. This is third on our list of prominent Brady art themes, after horses and ancient ruins. The colorful piece on the left features the Arc de Triomphe, and the one on the right is the Moulin Rouge. These landmark views have been portrayed by countless artists, especially those catering to the tourist market. The technique, down to the figures that walk the rain-soaked streets, looks to be a learned skill that can be quickly reproduced on demand. It’s the equivalent of the current day spray paint art that’s created on-site in tourist meccas from Fisherman’s Wharf to Times Square.

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Left: fishing boat painting in the family room; right: mixed media art in the family room

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.”

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Above: cityscape painting above Mike’s home drafting table

The Home Office

The art in Mike’s office away from the office fluctuated as the seasons progressed. Either he’s very particular, or Alice has too much free time. It would appear that Mike likes to inspire himself with the work of other architects. Directly in front of his drawing board is an impressionistic skyline of a contemporary American city. Perhaps it’s a hint that he dreams of working on a larger scale, or maybe it’s a reminder of the urban nightmare he strives to avoid. The most plausible theory is that the art was quickly grabbed from a pile of studio props.

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Top: abstract painting above the loveseat in Mike’s home office, season one; bottom: painting of ruins above the loveseat in Mike’s office, season two

Early in the series a horizontal abstraction—Edge of a Wood (1950) by English painter Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979)—hung over the loveseat. The autumnal view was soon replaced with another dose of ancient architecture. The painting’s free-form brush strokes are like a slap to the face of old world precision.

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Top: Mike’s home office, season three; middle: Mike’s home office, season two; bottom: Mike’s home office, season one

The wall space in the office vestibule suffered three different paintings in five years. This had a disorienting effect on the kids and may explain why Greg once abducted a goat. The first piece was a standard beach scene. It was quickly replaced by another French street with loose brushwork called Byways by Paul Romier. Online searches for the name yield almost no information; however, quite a few Romier originals are out there, which indicates that they were produced in volume. Incidentally, a cropped version of this print makes an appearance on a motel wall in The Terminator (1984).

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Top: “Byways” by Paul Romier in Mike’s office and in reality; middle left: Parisian street painting by Edouard Cortès in Mike’s home office; middle right and bottom: similar examples of Edouard Cortès’ street scenes

Byways was eventually banished to the hallway outside Carol and Mike’s bedroom in favor of a painting of a rainy day in Paris that stayed put until series’ end. It’s the handiwork of Edouard Cortès, a post-impressionist known for his many depictions of French streets near famous landmarks. In this case it’s the Boulevard de la Madeleine. Cortès’ street compositions often follow a strict formula that includes the same horse-drawn carriages, morris columns, and cameos of his own wife and daughter. At the same time he explored a wide variety of atmospheric and lighting conditions. This somewhat scientific approach is a defining trait of Impressionism, and the painting is more evidence of the Brady’s silent obsession with Paris. It’s a sad testament to a failed dream, considering the closest they ever got was Hawaii.

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Above: variety of art in the girls’ room throughout the seasons

The Girls’ Bedroom

The girls are the biggest art consumers of the family, and their artwork moves around the room in a constant orbit. Small pieces that are too numerous and too mysterious to mention appear and disappear. When the room was re-wallpapered in season five, it received a complete art transfusion.

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Top: blacklight posters in the girls’ room; bottom left: “Butterfly of Love” blacklight poster; bottom right: a variation of “Electric Cat” blacklight poster by Joe Roberts Jr.

Some of the show’s most memorable graphic art is on display on the wall behind Marcia’s and Jan’s beds. The “Butterfly of Love,” the “Electric Cat,” and the lesser seen cartoon Sun, are all off-the-rack blacklight posters. These images must have been among the most savory in the head shop, metaphors for the Brady’s tame yet hip status. The cat was first to appear. It’s dated 1967, and signed by Joe Roberts Jr., who also translated Alice in Wonderland, Jimi Hendrix, and Timothy Leary into silk-screened poster illustrations. Some of us are still furious that Jan’s Yogi Bear poster from King’s Island never made it onto the wall.

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Above: mixed media hippo in the girls’ room

I feel obligated to mention the crafted hippo near the bathroom door. It appears to be outlined with fabric cord, and has button nostrils and gemstone embellishments. There’s a matching critter, possibly a cat, on the opposite side of the doorway that’s very difficult to spot.

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Top: a rare shot that reveals both clown prints by Bardot in the boys’ bedroom; middle: complete set of four clown prints by Bardot; bottom: progression of wall arrangements, seasons one through four

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.

In typical mail-order fashion, there was a catch. The prints, which were delivered in what resembled an empty toilet paper tube, arrived with a flyer that states, “The lovely Bardot Clown prints which you have just received are 6” by 15”. This is not a standard frame size and normally would require expensive custom framing. However, TO SAVE YOU TIME and MONEY,  we have purchased a large quantity of specially-made, beautiful frames to fit these 6” by 15” art prints.” Those “Hand-Rubbed ‘Antique Gold’” beauties would set you back an additional $3.98.

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Above: posters above Greg’s bed

The space over Greg’s bed was updated at least twice with art that’s more teen-appropriate: a psychedelic Sun poster that could be the inspiration for the song “Sunshine Day,” followed by a photographic surfer poster that proves that Greg’s love for the sport wasn’t dampened by his near-death accident caused by a Tiki curse.

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Top: two nautical paintings above Peter’s bed; bottom: three pop-inspired paintings in the boys’ bedroom

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.

In the second season, three loosely-brushed, collage-like paintings showed up in unlikely places between the existing decorations. The energetic patchwork style and inclusion of text is somewhat Jasper Johns-esque. The paintings support the show’s stylistic progression towards a more vibrant, Mod look, and hint at Greg’s famous psychedelic overhaul of Mike’s home office.

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Top: End of an Arabesque by Edgar Degas in the parents’ bedroom; bottom left: ballerina drawing in parents’ bedroom; bottom right: glass blown ship in parents’ bedroom

The Parents’ Bedroom

The couple’s haven has limited wall space due to the large, leaf-covered screen above their bed. The spot by the door is adorned with one of Edgar Degas‘ many ballerinas. End of an Arabesque (1877) was a second season replacement for a charcoal drawing of another ballet dancer. On the opposite side of the doorway is a small shadow box containing what appears to be a blown glass ship. Again the art offers no insight towards what makes mom and dad tick. More telling is the time they let Cindy’s sniffles ruin their dinner date, and the fact that they brought their kids on their honeymoon.

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Above: a sample of the art appearing in the upstairs hallway

The Upstairs Hallway

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.

Conclusion

Horses, ruins, boats, Paris—what does it mean? The lack of meaning is the point. It’s stock art for a show with stock characters that include Sam the butcher, Tiger the dog, and Oliver the misfit. If one of the artists were ever portrayed on screen, he would likely wear a beret and goatee, and speak condescendingly in a wacky accent. While there’s plenty of provocative art in the world, the Brady collection does a great job of quietly existing on the walls, ensuring that the Bradys are always the most interesting thing on the screen.

This article has been revised on March 12, 2017, to reflect the following corrections: the painting Edge of a Wood (1950) was identified by commenter BananaForce, and the artist who painted Place de la Concorde, Marcel Masson, was identified by commenter Jim Van Verth.


Kirk DemaraisDemarais Avatar is a freelance creator and the author of Mail-Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads and Life of the Party, a visual history of the S.S. Adams prank and magic company. He also teaches the history of art, advertising, and design at John Brown University.

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130 thoughts on “Pork Chops and Apple Sauce: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection

  1. This is great reading! I would love to see the same examination of the Eight Is Enough house.. they seem to have a bunch of “cute animal” posters I recognize from the old Scholastic Book Club!

    • Much appreciated Brother Bill! I’ll have to take a look at Eight is Enough now. I had (still have, actually) several of those posters.

      • If one of those posters is of a baby orangutan with a cartoon bubble saying “Why do I always gotta take out the garbage?” then I need you to sell that to me immediately! 😉

  2. What a great read! I found this very enjoyable and well done. Can’t wait to share with my wife who studied art for awhile. I think she will get a kick out of it.

    • Excellent! Maybe your wife can shed more light on things. The article is the result of me teaching Art History I for four semesters and then watching The Brady Bunch.

  3. Man! I just barely took a glimpse at the article (will read it in-depth later), but what a subject to tackle! This is gonna be awesome!

  4. I maintain that the ruins were purposely planted by Robert Reed as a subversive statement against the the American patriarchy, the American nuclear family, and the American military-industrial establishment. I believe that if you look closely, very closely, at Mike’s home office, you will see a significant quote scrawled into the wall just above the lamp: “The bomb has already dropped, and we are the mutants.”

    • Wait! I need to revise a couple paragraphs now!

      I’ve actually wanted to edit together all the times Mike has made military references in the show. They were there in the pilot episode when he has the family march in unison to ‘hut hut’ commands. Also, he often refers to family plans as Operation so-and-so, and is known for his pre-battle style lectures. I guess it’s a sensible way to organize a large group of people.

  5. Gotta be my favorite post yet! I couldn’t stop reading…. the fact you got every room AND hallway included was particularly impressive……..This just totally speaks to all of us that grew up watching the Brady Bunch…….particularly the bewildering choices the kids seemed to make regarding what was on their walls………I never in a MILLION years would have wanted sad clowns or nautical scenes hanging on my wall and i could NEVER figure out why the boys would either!

    • Thank you very much Dusty!
      That was such a common theme of childhood, trying to make sense of something that doesn’t have a good explanation.

      Growing up I had a wealthy friend whose parents forced their own decorating choices on his bedroom so that it matched the interior design of the rest of the house. I thought this was downright cruel. I kind of figured the same thing was happening in the Brady boys room.

    • I am painfully aware of the beast. We’ve met in my dreams.
      I have no real information on it, but I’ve assumed its a crafted item made from two tin cans, and a paper plate mane. I think it shows up in the girls’ room at some point.
      Believe me, I was tempted to try to ID every knick knack on every flat surface in their house, but I had to draw the line somewhere (for now… bwa ha ha ha!)

        • Oh man. Dude, I think he has found the origins of our mysterious cat. How will our subconscious minds fill this void? But in all seriousness, reading your article and the replies have been such a joy. Thanks to everyone and please keep it going. I was ready to accept KD’s explanation of it as a hand crafted item, perhaps made by one of the children. But now I realize that there is no art created by any of the children hanging in the house AT ALL. This seems very odd to me considering how supportive Mr. and Mrs. Brady are of their children. I’m thinking of how they banded together to film Greg’s production of the pilgrims in the first Thanksgiving. There was the war of the clubhouse/forts between the girls and the boys, but these “instillations” were just temporary with nothing from the kids making the cut in terms of Brady wall space. It seems hard to think that Mike Brady, whose career is based on his ability to draw and draft, would not try to encourage it at home. I know that Marcia tried to draw George Washington once in class, and it caused a kerfuffle and that was it. Shouldn’t that house be up to its ears in macrame and spray painted macaroni mounted on cardboard? I grew up in the 70s and and have one child who is 11. I got her pictures up all over mi casa. just sayin’.

            • Do not beat yourself up on this. I don’t want to be known as someone to looks at very comprehensive, well-written and entertaining piece and points his finger at the one thing not considered–that is not my purpose here. This article rolls deep and has my deepest respect. But yet, I have been wondering about that damn cat since rewatching the series with my daughter in October of 2015, so I had to ask. And now I know. Thanks. Also, the comments here and on metafilter. Very funny.

          • When Jan auditions for a play where she will portray an artist, she had started working on a painting at home just to get a feel for the part. It turns out she couldn’t cut it as an actress, but could as a painter! Something she painted should have adorned the walls of the Brady home.

        • Sean you have my deepest gratitude. Thanks for shedding light on this! This means I may be able to own one someday.

        • I bought that cat because of The Brady Bunch!
          I wish I knew how to share a picture on here! He is my prized possession.

    • Those three wall shelves in the family room are interesting, also. There appears to be a sculpture of a horse drawn chariot there (?)

      • I have closer screen grabs that reveal that it’s a donkey pulling a cart. Looks like the cart might hold a plant.

        • Yep, makes sense. I think my mom had a similar planter, dating to the early 1970’s. Hers was smaller and less ornate than the Bradys’ seems to be, but the idea was the same. I don’t remember the exact details, but it was either a donkey pulling a cart, or possibly a locomotive with a boxcar. The back section was open and held a plant.

  6. THIS IS EVERYTHING. I don’t know whether the analysis or the deep references are the best part … but this is the best line: “During the first season, the family room walls are dominated by imposing scenes of duck-filled marshlands, one of them used in the hotel in the pilot episode, which seems to suggest that the Bradys stole it.”

  7. That staircase should be in the Smithsonian – but it’s not. They cut it up after the final season wrap. Who knew?

  8. The horse in the living room is really important to the plot of the “Very Brady Sequel”. From the movie’s wikipedia:
    ” One evening, a man claiming to be Carol’s long-lost first husband, Roy Martin, shows up at the suburban Brady residence. He is actually a con man named Trevor Thomas and is there to steal their familiar horse statue that is actually a $20 million ancient artifact.”
    While I don’t think those movies are considered Brady canon I thought it should be mentioned!

  9. Great article. One room not covered in the article was Alice’s bedroom, otherwise known as the laundry (to the right end of the kitchen). But you needn’t worry – no art collector worth his salt would hang paintings on a wall where it could be warped by constant humidity. It’s a wonder Alice never came down with pneumonia.

    • Thanks!

      I have a folder of screenshots of Alice’s room. I ended up leaving it out partly because I didn’t find any info on any of the pieces (they’re akin to the stuff in the hallway) and partly because I pretty much forgot about it at some point in the process. But I like your explanation better!

      Alice’s art consists entirely of natural subject matter, be it landscapes or florals. I suppose that fact alone would have been worth writing about. It’s in stark contrast to her confined (trapped) lifestyle. She can’t escape the single life (constantly joking about her failure to land a good man), as she’s cursed to serve a happy family every single day. She lives in a cell near the kitchen and laundry room. It’s like a human broom closet. In fact, Alice doesn’t even know how to drive! The wide open outdoor scenes in her room obviously represent a latent desire to be free! Aw geez, now I really wish I’d included that in the article!

  10. This certainly does fill a gaping informational void and also shows up music critics, who can’t seem to explain the Bradys singing Sunshine Day or the genius of rhyming hunch with bunch.

  11. Gosh I wish this had been my thesis. I’m trying to picture Greg’s pad but I guess it was more of an ‘environment’, a place to get into the Zone and so specific pieces were less relevant than the feel of the space.
    Is there a large wealth of chalked variety on the kitchen blackboard?
    Did Tiger ever drag modern works into his kennel?
    I’m reminded of nazi art in some of the works…the classicism but also the faux modernism which the Degenerate Art show approximated in it’s advertising posters.
    Thankyou.

    • Here are some images of Greg’s overhaul of Mike’s den office… http://verybradyblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/before-and-after.html

      You mentioned the chalkboard. Another goal of mine is to document everything that was ever written on it. It wouldn’t be that daunting because the board wasn’t always there. Sometimes they had appointments and lists on there that weren’t mentioned in the episode which was a nice way to add some dimension.

      • This would be incredible, I love noticing the chalkboard messages! This whole post made my day. I’ve considered documenting all of the kids’ clothing that features stripes but that like a never ending project.

  12. I am an assistant set decorator / buyer for the film business ( 39 years) I love to dress horses in sets because I love them and they look very powerful. Back in the 1960’s artwork was recycled through the prop house and could be re used freely. Now all art must be “cleared” with the artist or publishers. Many times we analyze the characters and combine that with color palette and personal taste when making these decisions. I love your commentary as to how these decisions may have come to fruition. The decisions were probably made by a set decorator who is responsible for selection and placement. Set dressers are responsible for dressing and maintaining the set.

    • It’s so great to hear you chime in on this! Thank you for the great insight. I think I found you on IMDB and I am beyond impressed. I want to hear so much more. Will you please write a book?

    • Thank you nelsonminar!
      I’m glad to hear you say that about the snark because it was a conscious effort. I’d be a fool to disparage something that has given me so much. (It’s almost hard for me to accept the show’s shortcomings.) Also, when it comes to art I’m an anti-snob. The fact that art is mass produced, derivative, or what have you doesn’t make me love it any less.

      I am ADORING the comments about this on Metafilter! They’ve pointed out a couple things I need to change. How could I mistake franks and beans for chili?!

  13. This might just be the greatest post I’ve ever read on the internet. Certainly the greatest art-related or TV-related one. Thank you, sir.

  14. Much of this art looks like what hung on the walls of our house. My mother frequented Tupperware and Home Interiors Decorating parties. Also, I’ve seen a lot of this stuff on our friends’/neighbors’ walls. Most notable – the clock, the clowns, and the mixed-media from someone’s pockets.

  15. Wonderful post! I think the constant rotation of pieces is reflective of Mike’s insatiable soul –surely he was never satisfied with a static, for-all-time placement, preferring dynamism and the shock of the new?

    I also wonder if you accept or reject the girls’ poster art as inspired by the iconic graphics of Sister Corita?

    • Thank you doctor! I like your theory. Robert Reed did everything he could to apply layers to Mike’s character. He was ultimately dissatisfied with the direction the show took, and his push-back towards the producers is well documented. I think his lack of satisfaction is visible in Mike’s character, especially in season five. (He didn’t even show up for the final episode.) So it would make sense that Mike would be dissatisfied with the art situation.

      Now that I’ve looked her up, Sister Corita seems to be right in line with the poster aesthetics. It’s certainly possible that she was influential.

  16. In the header picture, there is a painting at the top of the stairs, and I can’t decide if it’s a Shoggoth or Yog-Sothoth. It’s nice to see a Lovecraftian influence in the Brady domicile.

  17. Amazing read! If I may add…the central painting of ruins is likely the work of Harold Stephenson (aka Abruzzi) a prolific Los Angeles-based painter in the 60s and 70s. There were a few other artists who painted these post-apocalyptic “atomic landscapes” as well and they can still be found at estate sales, flea markets around the LA area. All the best!

    • Thanks David! Oh yes you may add. Please direct me to any pics of these, as it could be a breakthrough. (Most of the Abruzzi/Stephenson stuff on google image search is ‘moppet’ related.)
      I have a large, eerie drip painting of Roman ruins hanging in my living room that I found in a flea market for ten dollars. People don’t seem to understand the greatness.

  18. Fantastic article, and imagine my delight when I realized it was written by Kirk D! I’m a Secret Fun Blog fan 🙂 I would love to see more like this – how about the Partridge Family? The possibilities are endless.

    • Thanks Sue! After this article I’ve ruined the way that I watch television so who knows what might come next. Truth is, I’ve probably logged more hours watching the Bradys than any other show ever, so I feel uniquely qualified to cover it like this.

  19. Thank you Kirk.D for this amazing article. My wife and I have been reading it together on our own phones and chortling, whilst trying to beat each other to read out the best bits. The hotel ‘caper’ especially hit a funny bone. Our own home in Auckland, New Zealand resembles a ’60’s tv/film set so your article is even more apt. We’re now hoping someone will do the same on the Brady’s mid-century furniture. Also we wondered if the person who took the time to examine various shows and drew the architectural plans of the houses/buildings as they would be (in their imagination) i.e. Friends, Seinfield. The Brady’s house might be a bit of a ‘mare if Mike’s design ideals are anything like his taste in art!

  20. This article was awesome! I watch The Brady Bunch on DVD almost daily and am always accessing the props and wardrobe! Thank you for shedding such light on the artwork for all of us Brady fans!

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  22. I think it was Spy magazine that ran a feature many years ago about the Degas ballerina and how many dozens of shows it appeared on — two come to mind: I Love Lucy and The Donna Reed Show, Maybe Leave it to Beaver.

  23. So you work at THE John Brown University? My friend wrote two books in high school, John Brown and John Brown Part Three. We southern Missouri kids were always completely enthralled with the fact that there was a John Brown University somewhere nearby. The books were misspelled and hilarious and had nothing to do with any historical John Brown.

    Your work is inspired, and this piece is magical.

  24. Fun and educational article! For the horse statue reference, you might check out the Dick Van Dyke Show episode, “Give Me Your Walls.” It opens with Rob trying (unsuccessfully) to sketch a horse statute on his coffee table, and that horse looks a lot like the Brady’s.

  25. This is great. I grew up with a print of Ivon Hitchens’ “Edge of a wood” hanging in our family room. As we watched the Brady Bunch we would often spot this print in the Brady household. As you stated it was in Mike’s office, but I’m pretty sure it has shown up in at least one or two other rooms over the years.

    I now have this print hanging in my family room, not because it is great art, but largely because of my memory of making that connection to the Brady Bunch as a kid.

    http://www.artnet.com/artists/ivon-hitchens/edge-of-a-wood-XLKfUV9kyM-SelgjhoEWYA2

  26. I loved this piece and applaud the level of research that must have gone into watching every episode over and over again to offer up a Very Brady Art History! I remember wishing when I was a kid that I could have lived in a house like the Bradys (even if it meant I would have to share a bathroom with five siblings!). The art seemed tasteful and part of the background, like the homes of most of friends, and unlike my own, which was filled with original art and photos produced my parents and grandparents. It took me many years to realize how special that was and am glad I had a chance to capture my parents talking about their collection in the film: Jeanne & Mike – Original Art. Ironically (or not), the font used in the opening credits is called “Brady Bunch”. http://jeanneandmikeoriginalart.com/

  27. This is the best blog post I’ve ever read. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! I can’t even begin to choose a favorite line. the references back to the show’s plot lines are hilarious.

  28. Pingback: 11 Great Stories That Have Nothing to Do With Politics – New York Times – News Blogs

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