Andy Warhol spent his career bucking against traditional notions of what can be considered art, and there were few pieces in his oeuvre more iconic than the infamous Brillo box. The simple replica of the detergent container caused shockwaves across the ’60s art scene, and the upcoming HBO documentary “Brillo Box (3ȼ Off)” dives into the history of the piece from a distinctly personal perspective.
Directed by Lisanne Skyler, ‘Brillo Box’ chronicles her family’s connection to Warhol’s work (the filmmaker is pictured above as a baby with the box), with her father one of the few who saw something in the artist’s Brillo box and picked one up for $1,000 in 1969. And from a quirky collectible in the family living room, the work has since gone on an incredible journey around the world. Here’s the official synopsis:
In 1969, filmmaker Lisanne Skyler’s parents bought an Andy Warhol Brillo Box for $1,000. A budding collector, her father was drawn to the work of the young, emerging artists of the time—Pop artists, Abstract Expressionists and Photorealists—and saw it as an investment. Unlike critics of the era, who panned Warhol’s consumer-themed sculptures, her mother considered it a delightful addition to the family’s Manhattan living room. Eventually the piece was traded away, largely forgotten except in family artifacts like a snapshot of baby Lisanne perched on top of the yellow cube. The filmmaker often wondered what happened to the now-iconic work that had briefly decorated her childhood.
Forty years later, in 2010, the same sculpture sold for $3,000,000 at a record-breaking Christie’s auction. Fascinated by this eyebrow-raising turn of events, Skyler wondered about all of the personal decisions that shaped this object’s journey. What was the role it played in other lives, and what secrets did it hold about her own family?
Colorfully blending Pop Art history with personal narrative, BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF) follows this Warhol sculpture as it makes its way from a family home to the global art market, exploring the ephemeral nature of art and value, and the decisions that shape family history.
“Brillo Box (3ȼ Off)” will have special screenings next month at the National Gallery Of Art in Washington, D.C. (January 7th) and FOG Design+Art in San Francisco (January 14th) before landing on HBO in June. Check out our exclusive trailer for the film.