Blending humorous personal narrative with Pop Art history, BRILLO BOX (3¢ off) follows an Andy Warhol sculpture as it makes its way from a New York family’s living room to a record-breaking Christie's auction, exploring the ephemeral nature of art and value, and the decisions that shape family history.
"This lighthearted documentary intertwines the legacy of Andy Warhol’s “Brillo Box” with that of the family that bought one of the iconic sculptures for a meager $1,000...Ms. Skyler offers a personal, and laughable, take on a global phenomenon."
"'Brillo Box (3¢ off)' is about far more than what the sculpture fetched -- though that figure is staggering. It considers the aim, meaning, and collection of art. Skyler deftly weaves together photographs, interviews and observations about legacy and family, which makes her story (which is slightly heartbreaking) all the more poignant."
"...witty and touching...the film offers a pertinent, even poignant, observation about the things we desire and acquire."
Brillo Box (3¢ off) was an official selection of the 54th New York Film Festival and short-listed for an Oscar. It currently plays on all HBO platforms.
In the days after I was born in 1969, my father accepted a friend's invitation to visit the downtown Manhattan art galleries. Drawn to the work of the young, emerging artists of the time -- Pop artists, Abstract Expressionists and Photorealists – my father became an art collector and soon filled our small apartment with art by the rising artists of the era. One of my father’s first acquisitions was an Andy Warhol “Brillo Box (3¢ off)” sculpture, purchased for a mere $1,000.
Art critics had panned the Brillo Box series when it was first exhibited -- Time magazine went so far as to suggest that the only thing memorable about these exact replicas of the commercial soap pad box was their price. Guests were always surprised to see it on our living room floor. But a short time later, the sculpture was traded away.
Years later, I would look at our family album and find myself as a baby perched on top of our yellow Brillo Box. It seemed impossible that we once owned this now-iconic Warhol sculpture -- that we actually owned a work by Andy Warhol. I always wondered where the Brillo Box went, once it left my family’s living room.
And then, in November 2010, at the height of the great recession, the very same Brillo Box my parents once owned resurfaced at a Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Sale. It sold for over $3,000,000. I was fascinated by this stunning turn of events and wondered about all of the personal decisions that had shaped its journey. What was the role it played in other lives, and what secrets did it hold about my own family?
Documenting the 40-year journey of a single Warhol sculpture, Brillo Box (3¢ off) is both an exploration of the complex, and occasionally contradictory ways we value art, and a memoir of a lost chapter in my own family's history.
-- Lisanne Skyler