Andy Warhol Shoes (F & S II.253 - 257)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title Shoes (F & S II.253 - 257) Year 1980 Size 40 1/2″ x 59 1/2″ 102,9 cm x 151,1 Medium Screenprint with Diamond Dust on Arches Aquarelle (Cold Pressed) Paper Edition Portfolio of 5
Andy Warhol Shoes (F & S II.253 - 257)Meaning & History
"I’m doing shoes because I’m going back to my roots. In fact, I think maybe I should do nothing but shoes from now on." Andy Warhol
Shoes is a portfolio of five screenprints with diamond dust published by the artist in 1980. It is a colourised counterpart to the grey and black version Warhol released in the same year. Known colloquially as the ‘diamond dust shoes’ this portfolio is remarkable for both its importance to the artist’s biography and lustrous appearance.
Each print depicts an assortment of shoes in different styles and colours; red and pink stilettoes, dark blue and teal pumps and sandals. Warhol has paid careful attention to both the presentation of the shoes in each print, as they are all laid out differently and combine different colours. II.253 features only red shoes and is therefore a particularly suggestive image as the red lacquered heel connotes sexuality, contrasting against its black background. Meanwhile II.255 appears recalls classical elegance, with the shoes positioned neatly and horizontally, rendered in monochrome. Each suite of shoes, though depicting identical footwear, possesses a unique character, in line with Warhol’s characteristic trait of repetition that is seen throughout his work in portfolios. Repetition and seriality, rather than creating monotony, is a way to participate in a different way of seeing. Through small alterations to colour and form Warhol is able to evoke different moods for each image.
Warhol’s choice to devote a portfolio to shoes is one that stems from an affection for the footwear that predates the artist’s phenomenal commercial success. Warhol started out as an illustrator for fashion advertisements. In the mid-fifties, he was hired by shoe manufacturer I.Miller to create illustrated advertisements for the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Warhol’s shoe drawings were fanciful, expressive and undeniably stylish. So decorative were his works that he even employed gold leaf and applique for one portfolio of shoes. Soon, Women’s Wear Daily coined Warhol ‘the Leonardo Da Vinci of the shoe trade.’ With regard to the present portfolio, it is apparent that Warhol had not forgotten his roots as a commercial artist, and further, that shoes can be seen to symbolise his wider preoccupation with style, glamour and commercialism. He mused after creating the Shoes portfolio: ‘I’m doing shoes because I’m going back to my roots. In fact, I think maybe I should do nothing but shoes from now on.’
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