One of the most provocative and iconic objects of desire will be explored in the exhibition Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, on view at the Brooklyn Museum September 10, 2014, through February 15, 2015.
Through more than 160 artfully-crafted historical and contemporary high heels from the seventeenth century through the present, the exhibition examines the mystique and transformative power of the elevated shoe and its varied connections to fantasy, power, and identity.
Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe will be organized in six thematic sections-Revival and Reinterpretation, Rising in the East, Glamour and Fetish, Architecture, Metamorphosis, and Space Walk-encompassing early forms of the elevated shoe, architecturally-inspired wedges and platforms, razor-sharp stilettos, and shoes that defy categorization. The exhibition also features six short films inspired by high heels that were specifically commissioned for this exhibition from artists Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, Zach Gold, Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Marilyn Minter, and Rashaad Newsome.
The objects, both traditionally made and conceptual in nature, explore and play with the elevated shoe’s sculptural, architectural, and artistic possibilities. Early shoes on view include mid-seventeenth century Italian chopines made of silk, leather, and wood, European leather and metal pattens from the eighteenth century, and nineteenth-century cotton and silk embroidered Manchu platform shoes from China. Other highlights of Killer Heels are Marilyn Monroe’s Ferragamo stilettos (1959); stiletto mules of silk, metal, and glass by Roger Vivier for House of Dior (1960); and a wool “heel hat” made by Elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Salvador Dalí (1937-38). Contemporary heels in the exhibition include “Printz,” from Christian Louboutin’s Spring/Summer 2013-14 collection; Zaha Hadid’s chromed vinyl rubber, kid nappa leather, and fiberglass “Nova” shoe (2013), made in collaboration with United Nude; Iris van Herpen’s 3-D printed heel, “Beyond Wilderness” (2013); a black leather platform bootie with an 8-inch heel designed by Rem D. Koolhaas for Lady Gaga (2012); and Céline’s fur pump (2013) covered in mink.
Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe is organized by Lisa Small, Curator of Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, and will present works on loan from both established and emerging designers and fashion houses, including Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Tom Ford, Zaha Hadid, Pierre Hardy, Iris van Herpen, Nicholas Kirkwood, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Winde Rienstra, Elsa Schiaparelli, Noritaka Tatehana, and Vivienne Westwood, as well as works from the Bata Shoe Museum and the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that include classic shoes by André Perugia, Pietro Yantorny, Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier. and Beth Levine.
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition and will include essays by Lisa Small; Stefano Tonchi, Editor-in-Chief of W Magazine; and Caroline Weber, Associate Professor of French at Barnard College and author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. The exhibition will travel to venues to be announced.
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Photo: Christian Louboutin. “Printz,” Spring/Summer 2013-14. Courtesy of Christian Louboutin. Photo by Jay Zukerkorn.