Shoes, Shoes, Shoes is a slim, practically pocket-sized collection of drawings, prints, and watercolours of shoes – real and imagined – by Andy Warhol. It’s comprised of forty images pulled from the archives of the artist’s foundation for the visual arts, each accompanied by an enigmatic Warhol quip.
While his ruminations on beauty and the president are amusing, the shoes are the real stars here. The collection spans Warhol’s career, from his famed stint as an advertising illustrator in the mid-50s, to a painting of paratrooper boots completed in 1985. Though there is no order to the presentation, drawings from his earlier period dominate. This is a good thing – it’s where the book draws its humour and warmth. Like Untitled (Fantasy Shoes) from 1956, here Warhol presents the ultimate tap shoe – carnation yellow, spiked heel with a little faucet protruding from the back.
Then there are, of course, the shoes he drew for his clients, most famously, the I. Miller Shoe Company. Warhol wasn’t a stickler for accurate dimensions and measurements, opting instead of present the shoes as magical, whimsical objects of desire. He often uses gold leaf flowers or medallions to punctuate a simple kitten heel. In Dial M for Shoe, Warhol turns a high-heeled Mary Jane into something vaguely resembling Third Reich paraphernalia by lithographically adding fold birds and flowers to a red strap.
Shoes takes but a few minutes to flip through. It probably won’t teach you anything. And it’s small, so you might lose it. But leafing through its pages may very well lead you to contemplate why “sometimes something can look beautiful just because its different in some way from the other things around it.” That was Warhol, fyi.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bulfinch Press, 1997
reviewed by Sara Forsyth (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 8 )
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