Lisanne Skyler’s parents were art collectors in the 1970s. Her father was a young lawyer in Manhattan who spent his weekends going to gallery shows looking for exciting young artists. To buy new paintings he often had to sell the works he already owned. That’s how he came in 1969 to buy from the OK Harris gallery a small yellow Brillo Box sculpture made by Andy Warhol. Two years later, Skyler sold the work to buy a drawing by another artist who, at the time, seemed like he was going to have a career that would eclipse the faltering Warhol’s.
Over time, the Skylers’ Brillo Box passed through the hands of collectors like Charles Saatchi and other anonymous figures before landing among the possessions of Robert Shapazian, a noted gallerist who ran Gagosian in Los Angeles. When Shapazian’s estate was sold at Christie’s in 2010, the little yellow Brillo Box made $3m, a shock to Lisanne Skyler who was now an adult.
Curious about her family’s glancing role in the art world, Lisanne made a documentary film now available on HBO. Brillo Box (3¢ Off) is not just about the sculpture’s journey from her childhood living room to the auction block at Christie’s but about how and why her parents collected art; what became of the works they owned and the stress art collecting eventually placed on their marriage.
In this podcast, Lisanne Skyler talks about the role art played in her parents marriage, their personal evolution and the family that they raised.