Supremely sophisticated and exceptionally refined, Andy Warhol’s 1956 Golden Shoe (Dorothy Kilgallen) exemplifies the early innovations that came to define the artist’s legacy. Created for his now storied exhibition Golden Slipper Show or Shoes Shoe in America—which riffed on the “ubiquitous biographical directory Who’s Who in America”— at the Bodley Gallery in New York, the present work is a particularly elegant example of Warhol’s series of forty Golden Shoe works, which personify various celebrities that captured the artist’s imagination (Donna de Salvo in Exh. Cat., New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, 2019, p. 140). From figures such as Julie Andrews, James Dean, Elvis Presely, Truman Capote, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Warhol meticulously crafted a set of shoes “symbolically imbued with a unique persona,” by carefully applying gold leaf and foil appliqué to his delicate ink drawings in shapes reminiscent of the particular personality of each celebrity (Ibid). Dorothy Kilgallen, a widely-known journalist and television game show panelist, embodied the intersection of fashion, media, and society that Warhol was so infatuated with; the present work’s lusciously curved lines, luminescent metallic accoutrements, and exquisitely detailed trim bespeak Kilgallen’s style and presence.
By combining his experience in commercial art with his blotted-line ink drawing technique, Warhol’s Golden Shoes anticipate his groundbreaking silkscreen work of the next decade, work which would launch him to the forefront of the Pop Art movement. Explaining the sociocultural insight inherent to the series, Rainer Crone writes that “the technique of applying gold leaf in the portrait of a star or in the shape of a shoe or boot, in its formal constituent relationship with gold star clothing, should be seen as a significant feature of the social phenomenon of stars[…] Warhol's portraits of stars, in 1956, reveal that he was one of the very first artists to reflect on this frequently mentioned relationship between myth and star” (Rainer Crone, Andy Warhol: A Picture Show by the Artist, New York, 1987, p. 68). Wonderfully expressive, Golden Shoe (Dorothy Kilgallen) matches the boldness of its subject, paving the way for Warhol’s innovations to come.