Andy Warhol - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Bruno Bischofberger, Zürich; Private Collection, Vienna; Private Collection, Antwerp

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Ltd., Andy Warhol, January 8 - January 20, 1991; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Andy Warhol, August 27 - October 27, 1992; Vienna, KunstHausWien, Andy Warhol, February 22 - May 30, 1993; Helsinki Kunsthalle, Andy Warhol, August 23 - November 16, 1997; Warsaw, The National Museum, March 6 - May 3, 1998; and The National Museum in Cracow, Andy Warhol, May 19 - July 12, 1998; Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Warhol, October 12 - December 12, 1999; Kochi, The Museum of Art, Kochi, February 6 - March 26, 2000; The Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, April 1 - May 21, 2000; Daimaru Museum, Umeda-Osaka, May 24 - June 11, 2000; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, June 17 - July 30, 2000; Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, August 5 - October 1, 2000; Nagoya City Art Museum, October 7 - December 17, 2000; and Niigata City Art Museum, Andy Warhol, January 4 - February 12, 2001

  • Literature

    G. Frei and N. Printz, The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Vol.02A, Paintings and Sculptures 1964-1969, New York, 2004, Brillo cat. no. 694

  • Catalogue Essay

    Andy Warhol is one of the preeminent artists of the 20th century, the 1960s marking the years in which he created some of the most iconic works of art ever produced. In 1963, Warhol moved to a new studio which quickly became known as “The Factory.” The name of the studio was emblematic of the type of work Warhol produced there, using popular images of celebrities and mass-produced objects to challenge the status quo of what was considered art. The works depicted subjects at the forefront of popular and consumer culture such as Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Campbell’s soup cans, and the Brillo Box. Warhol will forever be known as the man who blurred the line between mass-produced consumer objects and the canon of fine art, changing the conventions of art and the market in which it exists. Warhol continued to utilize mainstream figures andobjects in his work until his death in 1987.
    Pop art challenged the tradition of aesthetics by transforming images of mass-produced commodities of popular culture into fine art displayed in a gallery. By completely dislocating the image from its context and isolating it as an autonomous object, a commodity became a receptor of thought and reconsideration. Andy Warhol was the leading figure of this revolution in thought and aesthetics. Pop artists were using paint and mediums in entirely new ways to challenge the essence of art, dripping it, splashing it, and even entirely submerging objects with images in order to cast them in new light. Objects that would normally be ignored for their banality were screaming for attention through their unusual display. It was an attempt to expose the truth of a mass consumer culture. Warhol posed questions that could no longer be ignored.
    In 1964 Warhol exhibited his first series of Brillo Boxes at a solo show at New York’s Sable Gallery alongside other boxes meant to replicate the packaging for Del Monte Peach Halves, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and Heinz’s Ketchup. Each of the boxes was constructed of wood in the dimensions of the actual box with the label from the respective brand silk-screened on its surfaces. To the viewer, the boxes looked just as one would find them in any store. Warhol also utilized unusual methods of display for both the Campbell’s Soup Cans and the Brillo Boxes in order to link them back to the original product as much as possible. The Soup Cans were displayed in a continuous row, as they would be in a grocery store shelf. The Brillo Boxes were a three dimensional extension of what Warhol had done with the Campbell’s Soup Cans, stacked in columns just as if they were for sale. By displaying his works in a nontraditional format Warhol was removing them even more from the realm of the traditional art world. The utilization of such ubiquitous household brands revealed the “commercial framework behind the pristine spaces of the art gallery and art museum, while rubbing the nose of high culture in the mundane disorder of the supermarket stockroom” (P. Walsh, “Brillo Boxes,” Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, 1998).
    Not surprisingly, such novelty was not immediately received positively. Many critics of the show felt that as an artist, Warhol should be creating images of his own instead of replicating the images of others, especially those created as labels for commercial products. Critics of Warhol’s work believed that such utilization of such labels degraded the seriousness of art. Warhol’s Brillo Box “made the form of that question finally and forever clear: how is it possible for something to be a work of art when something else, which resembles it to whatever degree of exactitude, is merely a thing, or an artifact, but not an artwork? Why is Brillo Box when the Brillo cartons in the warehouse are merely soap-pad containers?” (A.C. Danto, “Andy Warhol: Brillo Box” Art Forum, New York, 1993). A new philosophical question regarding the aesthetics and future of art was launched.
    Warhol’s boxes continued the debate sparked by the use of the ready-made: whether the context in which an object was created and displayed is enough to categorize it as art. While Warhol’s box sculptures seemed to raise the same questions brought up by works such as Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, the essential difference, of course, is that Warhol’s boxes were not found objects at all, but hand-made objects, meticulously recreated in another medium. With this project, Warhol further blurred the line between the ready-made and traditional art by engaging in recognizable artistic production, but only in his replication of a mass-produced consumer object. Warhol was not only furthering the debate about the place of the ready-made in the art world introduced by Duchamp, he was also expanding on the ideas he had explored in his variations on Campbell’s Soup Cans.
    While the Soup Cans had been heralded as revolutionary for their use of consumer objects as subject matter, Warhol went a step further with the Brillo Boxes. Though the Soup Cans introduced a new practice of the obvious utilization of generic commodities, they were still executed in a more traditional medium of paint on a canvas. Warhol’s Brillo Boxes, though crafted out of wood, look to the viewer exactly like the boxes one would have found in the store. With this work, Warhol forced the public to expand their notion of what constitutes art even further by making his art appear all the more commercial and even superficial.
    There is one key difference between Warhol’s work and the products after which they were modeled: Warhol’s boxes were empty. By leaving the boxes empty of the products with which they are labeled, he makes a subtle, yet powerful comment about the importance of the image and of advertising in the modern world. Through this piece Warhol seems to be arguing that it was not the items themselves that mattered but rather how they were packaged and what image they portrayed. This piece is an emblem of Warhol’s mission to challenge the notion of what defined art and the attitudes it provoked. Warhol is synonymous with the Pop Art movement, and the present lot makes it clear why. With this exemplary piece, Warhol utilizes the mass produced product by removing it from its intended context and reinventing it as an object of art, a sculpture. In keeping with the Pop movement, Warhol essentially brings life and art in closer proximity, radically altering the definition and boundaries of art forever.

  • Artist Biography

    Andy Warhol

    American • 1928 - 1987

    Known as the “King of Pop,” Andy Warhol was the leading face of the Pop Art movement in the United States in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects like Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity, and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

    Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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Brillo Soap Pads Box

Silkscreen ink and house paint on plywood.
17 x 17 x 14 in. (43.2 x 43.2 x 35.6 cm).

Signed and dated "Andy Warhol 64" on the underside.

$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for $842,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 Nov 2009
New York