Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from a West Coast Private Collection
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Diamond Dust Shoes

Details
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Diamond Dust Shoes
stamped with the Estate of Andy Warhol stamp and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. stamp and numbered twice 'PA70.006' (on the overlap); numbered twice again 'PA70.006' (on the stretcher)
acrylic, silkscreen inks and diamond dust on canvas
90 1/4 x 70 1/8 in. (229.2 x 178.1 cm.)
Executed in 1980.
Provenance
The estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2001
Special Notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the fixed fee for taking on the guarantee risk may be netted against the final purchase price.

Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.

Lot Essay

This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate signed and stamped by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Andy Warhol’s 1980 Diamond Dust Shoes is among the most striking examples of that series, epitomizing the pop master’s career-long fascination with glamour and consumer culture. Depicting women’s shoes since his inauspicious beginnings as a commercial artist and illustrator, Warhol’s familiarity with—and fondness for—the objects is obvious. Unlike his earlier work though, these shoes were not commissioned; they represent a fond farewell to the hedonistic, glitzy ‘70s on the eve of the more tight-laced and conservative ‘80s. Elegiac and celebratory in equal measure, Diamond Dust Shoes lovingly evokes the just-departed Studio 54 era, in which Warhol’s magisterial presence over the New York club scene went uncontested. A seminal work bridging Warhol’s dazzling 1970s output with his more subdued ‘80s paintings, Diamond Dust Shoes is both a monument to an era and a scene, and a stunning example of Warhol’s Diamond Dust series, more broadly.

Glistening like a star-filled night sky seen through a kaleidoscope, Diamond Dust Shoes boasts a compositional straightforwardness that encourages the viewer to bask in its immersive, tactile surface. Clearly legible and sharply defined, the four shoes—one red, one blue, one yellow and one lilac—seem to float above the rich background. The red and blue high-heeled shoes are a pair, both laid on their sides. The toe of the blue shoe just barely touches the sole of the red, obscuring a tiny sliver of the lilac shoe’s toe. The yellow and lilac shoes, seen from above, are from different pairs. The yellow, patterned shoe points toward the top of the canvas, its evident pattern difficult to perceive after the silkscreen process. The lilac shoe faces downward, a rounded toe and large wreath-like ring on the sole giving it a more casual, flat-soled appearance. The interplay of the four shoes, masquerading as a chance assortment, reveals the breadth of Warhol’s compositional genius.

Warhol partially returns to serial imagery, here painting numerous examples of a single commodity, without utilizing the strategy as he had in the ‘60s. The Diamond Dust Shoes series, then, marks a culmination of Warhol’s career up to that point and anticipates a further return to classic form in the ‘80s, which saw Warhol revisit, to great acclaim, self-portraiture, serially repeated imagery and a more pared down approach to color. In fact, Warhol would monumentalize those visual hallmarks in the ‘80s, producing massive self-portraits and epically scaled repetitions. In this way, Diamond Dust Shoes is the first such example of Warhol revisiting and enlarging previous ideas. In this case, though, the subject hails from Warhol’s earliest days as a professional artist, before The Factory, the recognition and the fame that came with it.

Introduced to diamond dust in 1979 by printer Rupert Smith, Warhol experimented with the material before deciding it lacked the dazzle he expected. After some tinkering, Warhol decided to replace the diamond dust with pulverized glass. First using the glass for his black-on-black shadow paintings from 1979, Warhol began using it on his last ‘70s portraits, giving Joseph Beuys and Georgia O’Keeffe the diamond dust treatment. In late 1979 or early 1980, Warhol conceived the Diamond Dust Shoe series, bringing together the luxuriousness of the ‘70s Society Portraits with the subversive wit of the ‘60s object paintings. Likewise, the series furthered Warhol’s career-long tradition of material innovation, begun when, in the early ‘60s, he abandoned the brush in favor of the silkscreen and squeegee.

Throughout his career, Warhol relentlessly experimented with new modes of representation. The ‘60s found him radically reversing a core tenet of painting—that it be hand painted. Similarly, his sculptural output of the same period aimed to resemble ordinary boxes of canned fruit and other goods as closely as possible. In the seventies, Warhol updated his silkscreen process to include, once again, hand painted elements in the form of background brushstrokes typically used to delineate a one-color silkscreened subject’s features. His Reversals series, too, marked a material innovation, where Warhol fundamentally reneged on the original premise of the entire silkscreen series. The diamond dust pictures represent his next great advancement, wherein he sought to push his machine-made aesthetic to new heights, introducing a level of precision and glistening perfection theretofore unrealized in his paintings.

In the same way that Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup paintings represent the budding mass consumerism of the ‘60s, his Diamond Dust Shoes stands as a monument to the ‘70s. Known mainly as an era marked (for members of Warhol’s scene, at least) by extravagance, hedonism and glamour, the ‘70s were also a hotbed of artistic innovation and societal unrest. As the Vietnam War wound down and Watergate gripped the nation, conceptual art began to reign supreme, supplanting Pop and even Minimalism as the decade wore on. Warhol, for his part, hunkered down and turned toward those around him, resulting in the two great series, the Society Portraits and Ladies and Gentlemen. Diamond Dust Shoes conceptually joins those two series, democratizing the concept of glamour and paring it down to its most essential form.

The shoe, for Warhol, anonymizes beauty and allows him to explore its implications, while moving away from the portraiture that had occupied him for more than a decade. Diamond Dust Shoes, perhaps the finest example of that series, finds Warhol at the height of his powers, molting the shell of the ‘70s and transitioning into what would be his final decade. In a career marked at once by an unmistakable visual brand and consistent innovation and change, this work evidences both at once. A quintessential Warhol picture, Diamond Dust Shoes is Warhol at his best, using simple, immediate imagery to create a layered, evocative picture that both recalls the triumphs of an era while looking ahead toward what would be the home stretch of his legendary career

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

View All
View All