Thursday, May 7, 2015

Andy Warhol: Retifist ?

Andy Warhol was born in 1928 in Pittsburgh to Czechoslovakian immigrants. He grew up in the city and attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After graduating with a degree in pictorial design in 1949 he moved to New York City to work as a commercial illustrator. It was during this time that he started to draw.

In 1955 he completed the works entitled, "Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, 1955" and later returned to the same theme for inspiration and produced Diamond Dust Shoes, 1980-1 (blue-grey).

During his lifetime, pop artist Andy Warhol was a painter, a photographer, a film maker, and a magazine entrepreneur, but he was also a shoe collector and kept large catalogued collections of celebrity footwear.

Warhol's artwork includes paintings, silk screen prints, drawings, photographs, films, videos and sculptures, but it was his affinity for collecting that resulted in the accumulation of 610 sealed boxes. This he called his time capsules. Warhol was an avid collector of all things and was intrigued by American commercial culture. His collections were sometimes grandiose, other times small, often lewd, and in general, mind-boggling. In 1974, the artist began boxing his collections and labeling them as time capsules. Material dates from the 1950s to the time of his death in February 1987 (aged 58). Museum archivists meticulously document each article and make photocopies and take photographs on the contents of each box. The intention is the museum will eventually support a database of the contents and of other information from Warhol's diaries. Only about 100 of the boxes have been opened but the diversity of items inside highlights Warhol's eclectic tastes. Party invitations, unopened mail, art gallery advertisements, newspaper clippings and a mummified foot, have been uncovered.

The foot artifact has been confirmed as an authentic Egyptian foot and was purchased at one of New York's flea markets. There is no obvious reason why he kept chocolate bars, old pizzas and even a piece of Caroline Kennedy’s birthday cake for her 16th birthday but they were clearly important to the artist at the time. No surprise perhaps that one time capsule contains a collection of shoes. His fascination with shoes also extended to a collection of two hundred pairs of women's shoes which he had carefully catalogued by museum staff.

The artist also chose to display the entire collection of shoes in the face of protests from the curator of the costume collection. Many experts have wrongly in my opinion accused Warhol as a fetishist and restifist because shoes appear so frequently throughout his works and collections. However there is absolutely no evidence the artist had sex with his shoes (restifist) and hence Warhol may have been obsessive compulsive and was driven to collect them.

Interesting Sites
Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh

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