Andy Warhol - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist, 1980
    Private Collection
    London, Phillips de Pury & Company, Contemporary Art Evening, June 28, 2012, lot 19
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I'm doing shoes because I'm going back to my roots. In fact, I think I should do nothing but shoes from now on." Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes, 1980 epitomizes the artist’s fascination with glamour and celebrity. “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) – despite this proclamation, the surface is the very subject of these works and the source, paradoxically, of their depth of meaning.

    Indeed, Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes acts as a vehicle through which Warhol returns to his very first depiction of cultural consumption. Pre-dating his portrayals of soup cans, flowers and Marilyns, the subject of shoes was Warhol’s first foray into commercial art in 1955. Shortly after arriving in New York in June 1949, Andy Warhol received his first freelance assignment—to illustrate shoes for an article in Glamour magazine, “Success is a job in New York.” Warhol continued to work on Madison Avenue and was lauded in the advertising world with awards and an enviable list of clients including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and the New Yorker. Warhol’s success as a commercial illustrator for fashion magazines and advertising agencies dramatically grew as he became the illustrator for the I. Miller shoe campaign a few years later. Subsequently, shoes quickly became one of Warhol’s earliest and most classic motifs.

    In the final decade of his life, Warhol returned to the subject of the shoe with the Diamond Dust Shoes series, based upon a group of photographs done early in Warhol’s career. In the 1950s, Halston sent Warhol a box of shoes to be photographed for an advertisement campaign. Warhol’s assistant Ronnie Cutrone emptied the box upside down, sending shoes cascading out onto the floor. Warhol, inspired by the haphazard layering of individual shoes, took several Polaroid photographs, from which silkscreens for Diamond Dust Shoes were derived twenty five years later.

    Diamond Dust Shoes glittering green, pink and purple heeled ladies’ shoes are set against a black background, grabbing the viewer’s attention with dazzling color. Though originally inspired by chance, the final arrangement of shoes was in fact carefully laid; the preparatory Polaroids show slight variances in the composition for this particular work. The various shoe designs are lined up against the black background, enhancing the pointed or rounded toe of each unique shoe. As a the fetishistic view of fashion combined with a pop sensibility of repetition, Diamond Dust Shoes is at once a reminder of Warhol’s early beginnings and representation of a new venture with serigraphy.

    Warhol found inspiration in the process of fellow artist Rupert Smith who had been gluing industrial-grade ground diamonds onto his own prints. Yet Warhol found actual diamond dust to be too chalky and dull, evocative in theory but disappointingly muted in reality. He replaced diamonds with sparkling, pulverized glass, adding a final layer of artifice to his already consciously unsubstantial work. Imbued with sparkling dust, the present lot is further manifested in the glitz and excess of 1980s Manhattan that Warhol was deeply intertwined with. Never one for subtlety, Warhol demurred, “I don’t think less is more. More is better.” (Andy Warhol: Giant Size, Phaidon, London, 2009, p. 364).

    Indeed, luridly colored, sparkling with faux diamonds, Diamond Dust Shoes is an exercise in excess. Yet the high heeled shoe also acts a metonymic referent 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 Elizabeth Taylor. As each portrait rendered the subject in a static, iconic state Diamond Dust Shoes goes one step further, reducing the portrait of a woman to the representative high-heeled shoe. Truly, Diamond Dust Shoes acts as a review of Warhol’s oeuvre, combining motifs from throughout his career into the reductive screenprint of ladies’ shoes. Coming full circle from his profession as commercial artist, Warhol delves into the themes that occupied him throughout his working years in the pared down depiction of these sparkling, colorful shoes.

  • Artist Biography

    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
90 x 70 in. (228.6 x 177.8 cm)
Signed and dated "Andy Warhol 1980" on the reverse. This work has been authenticated and stamped by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board and numbered "A110.107" along the overlap.

$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for $3,301,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 13 November 2014 7pm