From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Tue Aug 30 23:29:29 2016
BRILLO BOX (3 CENTS OFF) (2016)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
***1/2 (out of ****)
A bubbly and infectious appreciation of 1960s pop art, particularly the silkscreen fabrications of its most famous purveyor, Andy Warhol, "Brillo
Box (3 Cents Off)" tells an affectionate tale, tracing the journey of its titular work of art. Director Lisanne Skyler explains how her parents, primarily her art collector father, first acquired an original Warhol
Brillo Box sculpture for $1,000. The box became an integral part of their family dynamic, encased in protective plexiglas as it was and placed, front
and center, in their New York City living room, serving as a makeshift
coffee table. Her father later traded it for another piece of art,
produced by the less well known and colorfully dotty artist Peter Young.
It would change hands--and show up on the auction block at
Christie's--multiple times before fetching in excess of $3 million in 2010.
Warhol, a man more comfortable with images than with words, claimed
that "repurposing," as he did to such striking effect with everyday
consumer products by Campbell's, Kellogg's, Mott's, Heinz, and Del Monte,
was simply "easier" than creating something new. He and his 'Factory
workers produced 93 white Brillo Box sculptures and only 17 yellow ones
with the distinctive "3c OFF" lettering, plywood-constructed boxes with commercial artist James Harvey's original red and blue Brillo design screen-printed onto them.
When patriarch Skyler bought his 3c off original from Brooklyn art
dealer Ivan Karp in 1969 he wanted proof of provenance, so Warhol,
typically not one to sign or number his works, scratched his name in red
crayon on the underside. This rare signature, along with the pristine, plastic-preserved condition of the piece, contributed to its collectibility some forty years after Warhol's star first faded, then rose again.
At once playful and instructive, the HBO Documentary short "Brillo Box
(3 Cents Off)" lovingly blends its director's personal story with an
evocation of popular culture that examines the fleeting nature of fame and
the controversial divide between Art and cartons of soap-impregnated steel
wool scouring pads.