For Arthur C. Danto, eminent philosopher and art critic, Any Warhol's Brillo Box brought the entire trajectory of Western art to a screeching halt. The hitherto linear progression of styles and movements came to an end, allowing for the current multiplicity of discourses. He writes "In 1964, the Kantian question was: how was Brillo Box possible? Its impossibility was assured by virtually every aesthetic precept it flaunted, at the same time that the mere fact of its existence as art demonstrated that all those precepts lacked necessity." The appropriation of consumer-product imagery to a gallery context presented a philosophical puzzle, as well a refutation of the prevailing aesthetic ideology. He continues: "Brillo Box, in any of its many exemplars, made the form of that question finally and forever clear: how is it possible for something to be a work of art when something else, which resembles it to whatever degree of exactitude, is merely a thing, or an artefact, but not an artwork? Why is Brillo Box art when the Brillo cartons in the warehouse are merely soap-pad containers?" (A. C. Danto, Art Forum, September 1993)
Warhol's first series of Brillo Boxes was exhibited at his second solo show at New York's Stable Gallery in 1964. Just as his Campbell's Soup Cans dominated the impact of his first solo show the previous year, the Brillo Box came to dominate the second. In fact there was a variety of boxes on display - Kellog's Corn Flakes, Mott's Apple Juice, Heinz Ketchup and Del Monte Vegetables. On hollow plywood constructions, the artist silkscreened brand logos identical in size and shape to supermarket cartons. The resulting objects stood in a uniform stack, as if a three dimensional extension of his earlier Soup Can canvases. The evolution of the series developed almost by accident. Intended originally as a variant on the Soup Can, Warhol decided he wanted an exact reproduction of ordinary products rather than an artist's creation. It was exactly this engagement with the commercial and mundane which appeared so startling at the time.