Sunday, April 23, 2006

Shoe man: More on Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was obsessed with feet and footwear among many other things. Throughout his life, the artist returned to the theme, both in his own work and in his commercial work, much of which was for shoe manufacturer,I Miller Shoes.

Throughout the Fifties, Andy produced a series of shoe illustrations rendered in his favourite medium, ink embossed with gold leaf. In 1956, he displayed 40 of these in an exhibition called Andy Warhol: The Golden Slipper Show . They were priced at between $50 and $225. The idea was that each shoe belonged to a different celebrity. In his imagination, he shod Truman Capote, James Dean, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elvis Presley and Julie Andrews, among others. When he offered some of the drawings to the Museum of Modern Art they were rejected by the gallery director, Alfred H Barr who wrote to Warhol saying: “We feel it is not fair to accept as a gift a work which may be shown only infrequently.” Now a days the drawings are highly collectable, anticipating as they do, the celebrity theme of the later screen prints.

In the Seventies, Warhol collected shoes designed by his friend Roy Halston Frowick (the fashion designer who created Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat).

In the Eighties, he took to decorating and customising one of America’s most iconic pieces of footwear: the Converse All-Star high-top canvas sneaker. After his death, in 1987, a mummified foot was found among the artist’s belongings, probably stolen from an Egyptian tomb in the Twenties and passed through many other hands before it reached him.

Reviewed 1/02/2017

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