Andy Warhol Brillo Box (Soap Pads) 1964

We’ve seen Andy’s boxes. We expect them to be in all the “right venues”. But back in the early sixties this box was a provocation of the highest sort – part Duchamp, part RauschenJohns and all Pop swagger. These Brillo Boxes were campy, upscaled appropriations of America’s everyday supermarket staples. No wonder the AbExer’s were so up in arms about these “Popists” – supermarket philosophy seemed so Dada, so gauche. As Rothko once stated: “We assert that only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.” He was also a bit miffed that the younger artists had moved on to other ideas about art saying, “We worked for years to get rid of all that.” I guess that may be true – but in all fairness – it doesn’t take much to Pop a balloon filled with hot air. Andy’s Brillo Box asserts that this particular cleaning product is a Rust Resister and Shines Aluminum Fast. Our wig-wearing-plastic-surgery-enthusiast Andy also understood the promise of perpetual New-ness, infinite renewal and giant size packages – all of which may actually be a bit timeless and a bit tragic. So Andy presents his form of Modernism on a banal box.

carlos brillembourg
Jul 15
I was referring to other of your works such as the edition of cardboard boxes (of which you gave me one). Are you uncomfortable discussing this?
Then, please be clear about which works you’re referring to.

Meyer Vaisman
Jul 15
Those came about after the city of NY passed a resolution to recycle all trash—it provided no directives, no special bins, nothing. So I decided to do my bit and recycled on my own: 100 cardboard boxes filled with trash, cigarette butts, plastic containers, coffee cups, some sketches, etc., etc. If you open the boxes, you destroy the pieces. [Meyer Vaisman in e-conversation with Carlos Brillembourg]

“Another continuum between exterior and interior is present in Cutting Off The Digits (Floor Function), a group of trompe l’oeil cardboard boxes, containers typically used to transport objects or store information. Rendered in a crisp, flat hand, the boxes may also be seen as the equivalent of three-dimensional pixels in their standard, uniform articulation of generalized space.” [Michael Zahn – Boxes]
The Modern Era developed infrastructure, communication and transportation to take us out into the world – to move ideas, trade, information and power around the globe. Today we don’t have to go anywhere. In our Neo-Liberal world these things come directly into our homes through the internet which manifests products and services clad in these plain brown boxes. And in the gallery these boxes package the Modern Era – Duchamp’s box in a suitcase, Judd’s Platonic architecture, Warhol’s campy products, Vaisman’s box of detritus – all of it manifesting around the systems of distribution and the programs of painting employed here in the 21st Century. Zahn “ships” the Modernist Era right to your door.

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