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Diamond Dust Shoes Analysis Essay

Diamond Dust Shoes (Random)

Long before the Campbell’s soup cans, the Elizabeths, the Marilyns, and the Maos, there were shoes. Andy Warhol loved to draw them—high heels, pumps, or jeweled stilettos, many of them blotted-line drawings, filled in with color, and created when the artist was a commercial fashion illustrator in s New York.

In , Warhol, who was by then a famous Pop artist, returned to shoes, portraying arrangements of ladies footwear in a Diamond Dust series of screen prints in which Warhol added diamond dust for extra sparkle. Among the most famous: Diamond Dust Shoes(Random), which will be on display at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art when its “Warhol Out West” exhibit opens February 8.

The composition of ladies footwear on a black background, arranged as if they’d been spilled onto the floor with their toes pointed toward the center of the image, alludes to an endless array of shoes, playing into Warhol’s signature use of repetition. The diamond dust (from ground and cut gem diamonds) heightens the sense of glamour, fashion, and money—three things Warhol famously appreciated.

“The Diamond Dust works rarely travel” because of their delicate nature, says Tarissa Tiberti, executive director of Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, which partnered with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to bring more than 30 of the artist’s works to Vegas.

The paintings, sculptures, photographs, screen prints, and wallpaper in “Warhol Out West” include Double Elvis, several works from the Cowboys and Indians series, and a not-often-exhibited portrait of painter Georgia O’Keeffe. “It’s so poignant right now, even more than anyone can understand,” Tiberti says. “He touched so many people.” “Warhol Out West” runs from February 8 through October 27 at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art,


"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, 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, , 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 Shortly after arriving in New York in June , 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 s, 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 s 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, , p. ).

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.

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