Saturday, 13 August 2011

Shoes in Visual Art

Today I want to look at shoes, as usual, but I want to examine a more abstract function of the shoe.  The most logical way to approach this seemed to be in representations of shoes, so here we have shoes in visual art.  Discussion pieces below:

Van Gogh's A Pair of Shoes c.1887
The shoes depicted in this work are widely believed to be a pair of peddler's shoes purchased at a flea market in Paris.  A peddler is basically an old-timey door-to-door salesman.  These shoes would have been for daily use, and you can see that they are worn out by frequent journeys.  The shoes have character, which isn't a word I'm tossing around because they look beat-up.  Because of the traveling nature of the wearer, every scuff has a story within it.  That's what I love about sturdy leather boots.  I own a pair of 8" black Frye Harness boots and they are my go-to fall/winter shoe.  They go everywhere I do and I've been fascinated to see how my life changes the boot.  Let's not get crazy though; I don't like scuffs on any other kind of footwear.
 A sample of Andy Warhol's work as a shoe illustrator c.1955

This is not the Warhol pop-art style everyone is familiar with.  He was working for a shoe company where he did fashion illustration for their advertising.  I believe some of his ad work in the 50's had an influence on his pop-art, mass manufactured print-making.  On one occasion, he attempted to have his shoe illustrations exhibited, but he was rejected. As an aside, to whoever rejected Warhol: you fucked up.

Gauguin's Wooden Shoes c.1889-90

These are really meant to be worn as shoes, but you might not want to risk it given that they cost $338,500 a pop.  They are engraved with characters that depict the typical dress and manner of maidens from the region of Brittany in France, a favourite place of Gauguin.  The shoes themselves are also what was typically worn in that region.  These are an example of Gauguin's work in wood-cutting and wood-engraving, which is a field he helped establish with his art.

Shoes lend themselves to stories so unbelievably well.  They are essential to travel, and they become a part of your life's adventures.  This shit just got cheesy. Happy weekend!

- Shannon

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