Sotheby’s London is to auction a complete portfolio consisting of 18 hand coloured lithographs of shoe designs by Andy Warhol – À la recherche du shoe perdu – together with Shoe and Leg, produced circa 1955. During a seven-year period, from 1953 to 1959, Warhol self-published a series of portfolios, books and individual prints. These were all offset lithographs, some hand-coloured. During this time, Warhol was a commercial illustrator for fashion magazines and advertising agencies, and in 1955 he was appointed the sole illustrator of the I. Miller shoe campaign. Warhol made new drawings of shoes each week for advertisements in The New York Times and À la recherche du shoe perdu links directly to his work for I. Miller. Shoes became Warhol’s signature product. In the early 1960s, he moved to the more commercial Pop imagery with which he is now associated.
The hand-colouring was done by Warhol and his friends – with Dr. Martin’s aniline watercolour dyes – often during ‘colouring parties’. As such, each print is unique. It has been estimated that approximately 100 of each illustration were produced. The captions were written by American poet, Ralph Pomeroy, and transcribed in distinctive calligraphy by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola. The text often directly references popular culture, whether Alfred Hitchcock (‘Dial M for Shoe’), Gertrude Stein (‘The Autobiography of Alice B. Shoe’) or Marcel Proust – the title of the portfolio is a riff on Proust’s famous novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time, or Remembrance of Things Past).
The portfolio contains 18 prints in total, and is estimated to bring £100,000-150,000. Warhol created 16 individual shoes, plus the double size portfolio cover (the double size shoe and leg was created at approximately the same date and some portfolios include this work). A complete portfolio rarely appears at auction, and a set last came under the hammer 10 years ago. The portfolio will be offered in Sotheby’s sale of Prints & Multiples.
Andy Warhol À la recherche du shoe perdu 22 March in London, Sotheby’s