The yellow room is big, bright and eclectic. There is a set of faux bamboo furniture (bed and dresser), which Ashbery bought in Rochester for (nearly) a song in the 1980s just before it became a popular and expensive antique. In the 1990s, he was pleased to see an almost identical set in a room at Gracie Mansion.
Hanging on the William Morris flower-patterned wallpaper are not only reproductions by French painters–Greuze, Corot and Bonheur–that Ashbery recalled seeing at his grandparents’ Pultneyville home, but also a Jean Helion painting (which in 2014 replaced a Fairfield Porter portrait that Ashbery temporarily loaned to an institution), a Joe Brainard flower collage and a very early James Bishop gouache, probably from the late 1950s. A small Jane Freilicher early 1960s abstract painting shares mantel piece space with Joyce Kozloff’s painting of Daffy Duck, a present to Ashbery in honor of his iconic Houseboat Days (1977) poem about the “malevolent mallard.”
One mantel holds a collection of colorful end-of-day glass; other shelves hold further examples of his ceramics collection–a Weller vase and a Rookwood candleholder–alongside a few favorite gewgaws.
The resulting mixture of periods and styles, originals and copies, mature collections and childhood favorites makes this room one of the most enigmatic and interesting in the house.