Andy Warhol, American, 1928 - 1987
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Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes are approachable and elusive in equal degree. Very likely inspired by Jasper Johns’s American flag paintings and sculptures of everyday objects, they copy their subject with such precision that they fulfill the traditional belief that art should imitate nature. But the replication is almost too exact; without a trace of creative flourish, the sculptures become nearly indistinguishable from real soap pad cartons. This fluctuation between art object and consumer good—rooted in Marcel Duchamp’s readymades (works of art made from manufactured items selected, signed, and sometimes modified by the artist) and highlighted by Warhol’s tendency to stack the Brillo Boxes like warehouse stock—was a central concern and source of inspiration for many artists working in the United States during the 1960s.