Diamond dust shoes

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist in 1980
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “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

    Diamond dust shoes from 1980 belongs to an iconic series of works by Andy Warhol that epitomise his fascination for glamour and celebrity. Warhol did not claim that these works had great depth – “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it” (Andy Warhol: a Retrospective, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989, p. 63) – yet surface is the very subject of these works and the source, paradoxically, of their depth of meaning.

    The Diamond dust shoes series saw Warhol return to one of his original sources – his early job as a commercial illustrator for the I. Miller shoe company, whose advertising campaigns he revolutionised. These seemingly whimsical drawings brought attention to the young artist for the first time, became his ‘calling card’ and led to the exhibition À la recherche du shoe perdu in 1955 which was accompanied by a published portfolio. Bob Colacello, editor of Interview magazine, recalls the origin of the series: “A big box of shoes was sent down to Warhol to be photographed for an ad campaign. An assistant turned the box upside down and dumped the shoes out. Andy liked the way they spilled all over the floor so he took a few Polaroids…”. Such spontaneity on the part of Warhol, as this anecdote reveals, became to be a fundamental part of his gift as an illustrator, designer and artist.

    Like in other works from the series, Diamond dust shoes contrast the glittering green, pink and purple shoes against a black background, ensuring that they are the focus of the viewer’s attention. Rupert Smith, a fellow artist, had been using industrial-grade ground diamonds, gluing them onto his own prints, and it was this technique that Warhol used to create the glittering and elegant effect. Sparkling, pulverized glass was used by Warhol as an alternative to diamond dust, as the powder of real ground diamonds turned out to be too chalky. ‘Diamond dust’ had been popular with Warhol ever since he first used it in his Shadow series in 1979, as it connoted his favourite subjects – movie star glamour, high fashion and money: “The merger of women’s shoes and diamond dust was a perfect fit… Andy created the Diamond Dust Shoe paintings just as the disco, lam, and stilettos of Studio 54 had captured the imagination of the Manhattan glitterati. Andy, who had been in the vanguard of the New York club scene since the early 60s, once again reflected the times he was living in through his paintings” (V. Fremont, Diamond Dust Shoes, exh. cat., New York, 1999, pp. 8–9).

    The glittering shoes, the objects of desire of every woman, symbolise the values of the society increasingly intoxicated with consumerism, glamour and celebrity. Evoking illustrations in fashion magazines, these images embody the notion of a fetish, a technique widely used by the advertising campaigns from the 1950s onwards. The high heeled shoe, the ultimate symbol of femininity, refers directly to Warhol’s female portraits, on Polaroid and canvas, of the most celebrated, intriguing, fashion-forward women of his time, such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Liz Taylor. Warhol’s portraits of these women in particular have become iconic images not only of the artist’s practice, but of the culture of 20th-century Western society: “The star is a specific product of capitalist civilization: at the same time she satisfies profound anthropological needs which are expressed at the level of myth and religion. The admirable coincidence of myth and capital, of goddess and merchandise, is neither fortuitous nor contradictory. Star-goddess and star-merchandise are two faces of the same reality: the needs of man at the stage of twentieth-century civilization.” (Edgar Morin quoted in R.Crone, Andy Warhol, The Early Work 1942–1962, New York, 1987, p. 68.)

  • Artist Bio

    Andy Warhol

    American • 1928 - 1987

    Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

    Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.


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Diamond dust shoes

acrylic, silkscreen ink and diamond dust on canvas
228.6 x 177.8 cm (90 x 70 in)
Signed and dated ‘1980’ on the reverse. This work has been authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board and numbered A110.107 on the overlap.

£1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

sold for £1,105,250

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012