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Warhol’s rare shoe portfolio leads Sotheby’s print sale

A portfolio of prints created by Andy Warhol during his early career as a commercial artist will be offered at Sotheby’s this week.
The set of hand-coloured lithographs, based on shoe designs, will be amongst the leading lots of a sale which also features work by the likes of Francis Bacon, Ed Ruscha and Edvard Munch.

Prior to his emergence as the most famous practitioner of Pop Art, Warhol spent the 1950s earning a living as a commercial illustrator for fashion magazines and advertising agencies. In 1955 he was appointed as sole artist for the I. Miller shoe campaign, and quickly became one of the industry’s leading footwear illustrators.

During this time Warhol also self-published a series of portfolios, books and individual prints, including ‘À la recherche du shoe perdu’ – a portfolio of hand-coloured lithographs featuring illustrations of shoes combined with pop culture-referencing captions by the American poet Ralph Pomeroy.

Approximately 100 copies of each image were created by Warhol, who often invited his friends to help him hand-colour each one, making every print unique. Pomeroy’s captions, which featured puns based on everyone from Alfred Hitchcock (‘Dial M for Shoe’) toGertrude Stein (‘The Autobiography of Alice B. Shoe’), were then hand-written on each print by Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola.

Complete portfolios containing all 18 prints rarely appear at auction, with the last full set crossing the block 10 years ago. Now one such set will be offered at Sotheby’s, where it’s expected to sell for £100,000-£150,000 ($143,950-$215,925).

The sale will include further Warhol prints such as Marilyn Monroe (F. & S. II.31), estimated at £100,000-£150,000; Goethe (F. & S. II.270-273), valued at £80,000_£120,000; and Moonwalk (F. & S. II.404), priced at £55,000-£75,000.

Sotheby’s Prints and Multiples sale takes place in London on March 22.

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