Long before the Campbell’s soup cans, the Elizabeths, the Marilyns, and the Maos, there were Andy Warhol’s beloved shoes. Warhol loved to draw high heels, pumps, or jeweled stilettos. Many of them were created when the artist was a commercial fashion illustrator in the 1950s. In 1980, Warhol returned to his roots as a commercial illustrator by creating his Shoes series. Warhol implemented his signature style of repetition, arranging the shoes in a seemingly haphazard, yet methodical manner. The composition provides a candid perspective of shoes, spilled out on the floor in no particular order, but also presents the various views of the classic high-heel, leaving no element of the shoe hidden. The conceptualization of these prints is a revival of the beginning of his artistic career in which his specialty was none other than women’s shoes. Shoes 256 is almost entirely black, with low contrast prints of black shoes overlayed on a diamond dusted background. This particular Shoes 256 print invites the viewer to look closely, to examine the full work in order to gauge meaning from it because if one moves by it too quickly, it may look like a wholly black and grey canvas.
Shoes 256 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
During the early 1980s, Andy Warhol was forming bonds with a number of younger artists in the New York art scene including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and David Salle. Warhol saw a re-emergence of critical and financial success during this period of his life. It was at this time that he was inspired to create a series which paid homage to his beginnings as a commercial illustrator. His Shoes portfolio, which includes Shoes 256 was created alongside prints featuring identical images of shoes, but the second series is accented by multi-colors.