Before his Campbell’s soup cans and celebrity silkscreens, the Chelsea Girls movie and Interview Magazine, Andy Warhol drew shoes for a living, and was good at it. The Carnegie grad moved to New York City in 1949 and found work as a commercial illustrator working in fashion and advertising. His early drawings, of pretty shoes and pretty boys and cats, at the blockbuster retrospective at the Whitney, Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again, are sweet and yearning and feel identifiably human. They seem like artifacts of the pre-fame boy long since blotted out by his brilliant, now inescapably blue-chip, conceptual hustle. Jerry Saltz rightly and insightfully noted, “These years are often dismissed as Warhol’s juvenilia, his commercial years, but almost everything he’d do for the rest of his life surfaced in that decade.” But they also can make you wonder what he felt he had to bury to get that gnomic V.I.P. juggernaut going.
Photo: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York