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Andy Warhol 1928 - 1987

Diamond Dust Shoes, 1980-81

Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen inks and diamond dust on canvas
228.6 x 176.53
Stamped with Estate of Andy Warhol and Andy Warhol Foundation Stamps (verso)

Catalogued in Andy Warhol Foundation records: PA 70.033

Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes forms part of the spectacular series of works created in 1980 that marked an important re-visitation to one of the primary motifs of his past. Reflecting on both his motivation and his enthusiasm in selecting shoes as his subject matter for this series, Warhol said: “I’m doing shoes because I’m going back to my roots. In fact, I think maybe I should do nothing but shoes from now on” (Warhol quoted in P. Hackett (ed.), The Andy Warhol Diaries, New York 1989, July 24, 1980, p. 306)

Like all of Warhol’s greatest images, Diamond Dust Shoes carries a note of the self-portrait. It was at this time that he began mining his back-catalogue of images in his Reversal andRetrospective paintings, which aimed to scrutinise the phenomenon of his own success. In this reflective frame of mind, it is no surprise that he reclaimed the motif of the shoe, the early embodiment of his dreams and achievement of fame. Diamond Dust Shoes references the period when, as a hugely popular commercial artist in the 1950s, his whimsical and inventive shoe drawings became the talk of the town as well as his personal calling card. As the sole illustrator for the rather sedate I. Miller Shoes, Warhol had been responsible for injecting the company’s image with a much-needed touch of glamour. His drawings were a hit, leading to an exhibition and even an illustrated book, Ã la recherché du shoe perdu.

Diamond Dust Shoesreturns to the motif with force, reinventing it for the disco era. This carefully choreographed clutter of heels had been sent to Warhol to be photographed for an ad campaign of Halston’s shoe licensee Garalini, and he instantly recognised the decadent array of high-fashion goods to be an emblem for his art. The image combines Warhol’s characteristically high contrast Polaroid images in negative form, combining matte black paint with sparkling ‘diamond dust’ to enhance its sense of glamour and allure. The shoe paintings were the first series in which Warhol consistently used this dusting of ground glass and its success in the artist’s eyes would ensure that it recurred repeatedly in his works of the 1980s.

Vincent Freemont writes, “the merger of women’s shoes and diamond dust was a perfect fit … Andy created the Diamond Dust Shoe paintings just as the disco, lame, and stilettos of Studio 54 had captures the imagination of the Manhattan glitterati. Andy, who had been in the vanguard of the New York club scene the early 60’s, once again reflected the times he was living in through his paintings” (V. Fremont, Diamond Dust shoes, exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, 1999, pp.8-9)

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Gul Coskun