October 8, 2010

Warhol Brillo Box End Tables For Everyone!

boy's bedroom

In my other blog/life, I've been researching the slightly absurd, increasingly high stakes saga of Andy Warhol's iconic Brillo Box sculptures. In a nutshell, it turns out that Pontus Hulten, one of the major museum directors in the world--he founded the Moderna Museet in Sweden, the Pompidou, and MoCA in LA--figured he had Warhol's authorization to make a set of Brillo Boxes in 1968, and he made maybe a dozen. But then he went ahead and made 105 more in 1990 without telling the Warhol Estate. "Real" Brillo Boxes are now selling for over $1 million, and the Warhol Authentication Board's decision this summer to reclassify any Hulten-related Brillo Boxes, even the old ones, as copies basically wipes out their value as art, leaving them as little more than Pop Art-y end tables.

Which is ironic, because that's how they've typically used in collectors' homes, going all the way back to Warhol's dealer, Leo Castelli. In fact, the Warhol Board's report says that in 1968, Hulten gave three boxes away to a museum colleague as a "souvenir" of the Warhol show, and then kept three for himself, and that "two served as bedside tables for his children."

I can't find photos of Hulten's kids' tables, but up there's an image from Janee's flickr stream of a [presumably authentic 1964 version] Brillo Box table in a boy's bedroom in a San Francisco decorator showhouse.

And why not use a Warhol Brillo Box as a kid's table? Because it or the plexiglass box you put it in have dagger-sharp corners and edges upon which your kid will inevitably impale herself someday? Yeah, yeah, whatever, but why else?

1 Comment

Really? My daughter had one of those for about a year, but it was a Huggies diaper box that she used as a nightstand. I had no idea we were such trend-setters. And it was eco-friendly!

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