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One of my all-time favourite pieces to come to auction was the wonderful early gold-leaf work, Golden Shoe (Julie Andrews Shoe) , by Andy Warhol. Golden Shoe is the result of an encounter between the starry glamour of the 1950s, and the period’s burgeoning culture of mass-media — all brought together in the flourishes of Warhol’s imagination and hand.
The work was made at a crucial moment in both the artist’s and actress’s careers: In the mid-1950s, Andrews was taking America by storm in the Broadway smash My Fair Lady; At the same time, Warhol — on the brink of international fame — was reaching the peak of his career as a commercial artist, taking the streets of Manhattan by storm with an incredibly successful advertising campaign for shoe store I. Miller and Sons.
Golden Shoe belongs to a pivotal series of works which were exhibited in The Golden Slipper Show at New York’s Bodley Gallery in December 1956 — the series later featured in Life magazine in January 1957, as part of a two-page spread entitled Crazy Golden Slippers: Famous people inspire fanciful footwear. The work was bought by TV production designer Charles Lisanby — one of Warhol’s closest confidants and Andrews’ lighting assistant on My Fair Lady.
The young Julie Andrews was imagined by Warhol as a classical Cinderella-esque slipper, embellished with gold and silver trim — a reflection of the actress’s alluring public image, and a comment on Warhol’s interest in the connection between commodification and celebrity, themes that would go on to define his practice.
Golden Shoe (Julie Andrews Shoe) was offered in our Post-War & Contemporary Day Auction in February 2015, where it achieved an outstanding result of £722,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000. It now stands as a world auction record for the artist for any work from the 1950s.
Main image at top: Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Golden Shoe (Julie Andrews Shoe), 1956. Estimate: £10,000-15,000. Sold for £722,500 on 12 February 2015 © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London
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