"When I used to do show drawings for magazines I would get a certain amount for each shoe, so then I would count up my shoes to figure how much I was going to get. I loved by the number of shoe drawings – when I counted them I knew how much money I had." (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, New York, 1975, p. 85).
Gold Shoe, circa 1957, drawn in ink and appliquéd in gold leaf and foil, epitomizes the artfulness of even Warhol's most commercial work. Blocked with his distinctive blotted line, a graphic style he developed in college at Carnegie Mellon, Warhol fills in the shoe with dazzling delicacy. With the exaggerated femininity ironically reserved for men in the court of Louis XIV, this single shoe is adorned in pearls and foiled with filigree. These shoe drawings afforded Warhol with a conceptual constraint in which he could work in great detail and with fanciful imagination.
Regardless of Warhol's legacy as a ruler of new bohemia, he came of age professionally during the Eisenhower presidency, in a mid-century American in which "sex of any variety [was] a forbidden subject." Regardless of the material – shoes in this case -- Warhol's line, though it "appears innocent... has an inherent naughtiness and irreverence about it. He fills shoes with sexual innuendos – with snakes and elaborate flourishes – conjuring up the bare feet we do not see." (Judith Goldman, "Warhol's Line" Andy Warhol Drawings & Related Works 1951-1986. New York City, NY: Gagosian Gallery, 2003, p. 5). Although both his style and his subjects would change dramatically in the coming decades, Warhol's concerns with ornament and essence, with iconography and idolatry, would repeat again and again.
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