“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world” used to say Marilyn Monroe in one of her best known quotes. But who said that shoes are mere pieces of clothing? Let’s take it to a different level: imagine shoes on paper, high heels made by pencils and points sharpened by paint brushes: it could be strage to imagine, but one genial mind took advantage of these kind of artistic footwears to make his first moves on the path of “conquest of the world”. If you’ve always thought that Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshow was the only one genuinely obsessed with her precious Manolo, you’ve maybe underestimate the impact that shoes had on the worldwide famous artist, Sir Andy Warhol, whose presentations are ridiculously not necessary.
Andrew Warhola, born in Pittsburgh in 1928, was an icon of his ages and became a myth in our times: thanks to his original technique of serigraphy used in his works of art he was able to represent the same images multiple times. Hollywood stars, everyday objects and effective pictures portrayed dreams, thoughts and obsessions of capitalistic era of the American 60s in such a powerful way never seen before. But even an illustrious personality like our Andy Warhol isn’t born in the silver Factory: before his silk-screen printings, drawing has been a constant part of his artistic practice. In childhood he took classes at Carnegie Museum of Art and Institute for Technology, where his non-traditional and irreverent style did not always meet his professors’ academic standards.
In the 1950s Andy moved to New York, beginning a career in magazine illustration and shoe advertising. His trade-mark was a “blotted line” technique: it combined drawing with very basic printmaking, creating a variety of illustrations along a similar theme. The process that Warhol used resulted in dotted, broken and delicate lines that are characteristic of his illustrations; then he often colored his drawings with watercolor dyes or applied gold leaf and also used hand-craved rubber stamps to create patterns. Andy employed all of these techniques in commercial illustrations: noteworthy are his award-winning designs for I Miller shoes or the high end leather company Fleming Joffe, in addition to his great job done at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, by that time captained by famous fashion editor Diana Vreeland.
Despite his increasing success as a commercial artist, Warhol’s yearning of becoming more famous and idolized got the better: longing to be best known as a fine artist, Andy started looking around and visiting places other than America; when he came back he decided that his ambitions exceeded the bounds of the commercial art world and returned painting on canvas. If you’ve never came across Andy Warhol fashion illustrations, you’d better take a look!
Article by Marina Lepori