Andy Warhol Could Sell Shoes

Andy Warhol got to New York in 1949, armed with a good art education and plenty of talent. The first job he landed was as a commercial illustrator for a Glamour magazine feature called What is Success. Warhol’s illustration, Success is a Job in New York, jump started his incredible career.

Tina Fredericks, the art director for Glamour (and his first boss in New York) said, “I greeted a pale, blotchy boy, diffident almost to the point of disappearance but somehow immediately and immensely appealing. His ink lines were electrifying. Fragmented, broken, and intriguing, they grabbed at you with their spontaneous intensity. Andy was so obviously talented I knew I wanted to use him.”

His ink lines were electrifying. Fragmented, broken, and intriguing, they grabbed at you with their spontaneous intensity. Andy was so obviously talented I knew I wanted to use him.”
– Tina Fredericks, Art Director for Glamour

The Glamour illustration showcased Warhol’s talent and led to more work, but the pivotal point in his career came when he was asked to do illustrations for the I. Miller shoe company.

The I. Miller shoe company was established in New York in 1901 and made beautiful for Broadway theater productions and ballet companies. The shoes were wonderful, but their market and marketing was limited. In 1955, I. Miller president, Jerry Stutz, hired Warhol to illustrate their ads, which ran in the Sunday New York Times for several years.

Warhol’s ads captured the attention of readers and stimulated the sales and reputation of the company.

“In a sea of tiny little images that were the pages of the Times,” Stutz said, “these bold blockbuster fantasies were extraordinarily effective. What the ads did was to revitalize and revive the I. Miller brand, and from a dowdy, musty, fusty, dusty, dowager establishment, it became a stylish emporium for debutantes.”

What Warhol did with the ads, was to erase the line between illustration and fine art.

And More Andy Warhol Shoes…

In 1980, Warhol created his Diamond Dust Shoes series. According to Warhol’s Interview magazine editor, Bob Colacello, the idea began when Victor Hugo, the partner of fashion designer, Halston, sent over a box of shoes that Halston wanted Warhol to use in an ad campaign.

The diamond-dust idea was stolen from Rupert Smith, who had been using the industrial-grade ground-up stones on some prints of his own. He was foolish enough to tell Andy where to buy it and foolish enough to be surprised when it turned up as Andy’s art.”
—Bob Colacello

“Victor Hugo sent down a big box of various styles to be photographed for the ad campaign of Halston’s shoe licensee, Garolini.” Colacello said, “Ronnie turned the box upside down and dumped the shoes out. Andy liked the way they looked spilled all over the floor. So he took a few Polaroids and had Ronnie take a lot more. The diamond-dust idea was stolen from Rupert Smith, who had been using the industrial-grade ground-up stones on some prints of his own. He was foolish enough to tell Andy where to buy it and foolish enough to be surprised when it turned up as Andy’s art. ‘Oh, it fell on my painting and stuck.’ Andy said.”

The Diamond Dust Shoes series was another set of work that resonated with Warhol’s public. It combines art, fashion, glitz and glamor in the usual Warhol style.

Shoes-Deluxe Edition is for sale at our gallery at this time.

We welcome you to visit Vertu Fine Art to view Shoes and the other works of Andy Warhol available in our gallery or contact us for more information.