Brillo Box (3¢ Off)

40 min. Cinema Guild. 2017. $99.95. ISBN 078151567X.
Gr 9 Up—In framing her story around an Andy Warhol "Brillo Box" once owned by her family, Lisanne Skyler details the ascendance of Warhol as a pivotal 20th-century artist and offers a glimpse into the world of contemporary art sales. The filmmaker begins by asking her parents how they came to purchase the Warhol. They confess to a certain naiveté about their art collecting in the 1960s and '70s, purchasing what was "new and interesting," often selling pieces to buy others. (In family photos, the sculpture is seen serving as coffee table.) She follows the box as it changed hands, incorporating the history of the piece through interviews (the original, commercial Brillo boxes were designed by the abstract expressionist James Harvey), and includes photos and film clips of Warhol packing the boxes, hanging out at the Factory, and answering—and evading questions—about the sculptures. The family's piece eventually ends up with famed collector Robert Shapazian, and after his death, it's auctioned at Christie's for more than three million dollars. Astute students will note that Warhol's message of art as commodity comes full circle with the sale. Final scenes include a visit to Peter Young, the artist whose work the family sold their Brillo box to purchase, and a view of contemporary artist Charles Lutz creating Brillo boxes that he gives away, thus appropriating Warhol as the "biggest and most successful" appropriator.
VERDICT A personal and unusual, sometimes poignant, look at the history of a sculpture, ownership, and the art world. Most suitable for public library collections.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

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