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 252 features black and white images of a row of heels, despite color being such an integral part to the identity of a shoe. Perhaps Warhol is offering another way by which to look at consumerism or ideas of femininity through the lens of shoes and fashion.
Shoes 252 by Andy Warhol as Part of His Larger Body of Work
During the early 1980s, 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 series, which includes Shoes 252 was created alongside prints featuring identical images of shoes, but the second series is accented by multi-colors.