Lot 46
  • 46

Andy Warhol

900,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Andy Warhol
  • Diamond Dust Shoes
  • acrylic, silkscreen ink and diamond dust on canvas
  • 228.6 by 177.8cm.; 90 by 70in.
  • Executed in 1980.


Gagosian Gallery, New York

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


New York, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: Diamond Dust Shoes, 1999, p. 7, illustrated in colour 

Catalogue Note

With its glittering sparkle, Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes delivers a shimmering veneration of the ultimate form of consumerism: fashion. From his earliest days as a fashion illustrator working on Madison Avenue creating advertisements for magazines such as Glamour, Warhol recognised high-heels as transformative totems of glamour. Executed at the turn of the 1980s, when the artist was increasingly looking back at his career, the Diamond Dust Shoes series represents a pivotal moment in his output. In 1979, Warhol had initiated his Reversals and Retrospective series, which revisited his most famous icons from the Soup Cans and Disasters to MarilynMona Lisa and Mao. As David Bourdon has explained, "By ransacking his own past to produce the Reversals and Retrospectives, Warhol revealed himself to be one of the shrewdest of the new wave of post-modernists" (David Bourdon, Andy Warhol¸ New York 1991, p. 380). For Bourdon, the Shoes stand at the apex of this revolutionary perspective, and are thus critical to the entire direction of his now highly celebrated canon of late work.

When Warhol decided to re-visit his emblematic shoes in 1980, he had just begun to develop a new silkscreen printing technique that involved the use of diamond dust. First presented to him by Rupert Smith around 1979, this medium seemed purpose-made for Warhol. Sparkling and glittering, the inherent qualities of diamond dust make a direct reference to movie star glamour, high fashion, fame, and money. However, the diamond dust proved too powdery and did not sparkle enough for the artist’s taste, so Smith ordered larger crystals of pulverized glass and with this new form of ‘diamond dust’ Warhol was able to cultivate a technique whereby the dust would adhere to the surface of the canvas in much the same manner as a silkscreened colour, although with a subtly raised surface relief.

Combining abstraction and figuration in entirely novel manner, the Diamond Dust Shoes series are emblematic of Warhol’s genius. He first gathered shoes of all shapes and sizes and assembled them in his studio at 860 Broadway. Placed on white paper, he took a series of Polaroids of various groupings from which he chose his favourites for the final works. As Bourdon expands, "Instead of isolating a single shoe against a plain ground as he had done in the 1950s, Warhol jumbled several kinds of ladies' shoes in exuberantly disordered compositions that he arranged, photographed and had silkscreened...all choreographed to convey a sense of clutter" (ibid.). One of the most strikingly original intentions of this choreography is that the final edited image dissects the fields of abstraction and figuration, so that the flattened shapes in brilliant colour become discernible through a few visual cues. Highly symbolic as well as technically brilliant, Diamond Dust Shoes seems to encapsulate the giddy, glamorous whirlwind of Warhol’s remarkable life and art.