PRINT September 1993

Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box

CONSIDERATIONS OF MODESTY, fortified by counsels of prudence, must caution philosophers against inviting comparisons between their own work and that of Immanuel Kant. These wise recommendations notwithstanding, I have irresistibly thought of Andy Warhol as having played in the evolution of my thought the role that Kant assigned Hume in the evolution of his own. Hume, Kant wrote, “interrupted my dogmatic slumber, and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction.” It was Warhol who awoke me from mine, and made plain to me that the philosophy of art must move on. This was what Brillo Box meant to me the moment I saw it, in an East 74th Street one-man show widely if inconclusively discussed at the time: 1964.

“Hume!” one can hear Kant’s colleagues saying, with the same strained incredulity I have encountered when arguing that Warhol had the greatest

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