Le modèle rouge by René Magritte, 1937. Oil on canvas, 183 x 136 cm. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
In Van Gogh’s canvas, the ugliness and vulnerability, the lowliness of the shoes are immediately visually accessible through the drab colors, the lack of shading, and the careless brushstrokes. These shoes are tragic, but also cozy, cunning, sweet, looking up at us. Their pliant, worn leather is an index of the time their owner, their absent subject, has spent in the fields. Heidegger is right that their emptiness is evident—the black space yawning out from them, their saggy, flaccid form, are both lamentation and invitation.
Magritte‟s shoes lack this affective facet. They are also empty, in a sense, but they do not seem to be beckoning their wearer to put them on. They say something different about their relationship with the feet that wear them; they are not abandoned, empty husks waiting to be inhabited at last by a living subject. As products of and participants in modern capitalist society, these shoes know that there is no separation between them and their wearer. Magritte‟s boots are finer than Van Gogh’s, less worn, but only slightly; they are ordinary shoes, probably mass-produced. They are not centered in the frame, as Van Gogh‟s are; instead of beckoning and inviting the missing feet for whom they were made and to whom they belong, these empty shoes point an accusing toe at the absent body by leaving its place conspicuously empty. But the body is not gone; it reasserts itself in the shoes themselves.1
Emily Patricia Asplund, “Les Pas Perdus: Images of Feet and Shoes in Surrealist Art,”Master’s Degree Thesis (Brigham Young University, 2008), 24-25. ↩
Killer shoes at my shoot with Rose Cordero and Sharon Kavjian yesterday!
amsterdam-based designer leanie van der vyver has conceived and collaborated with dutch designer and shoe fabricator rené van den berg
to execute ‘scary beautyful’, a pair of shoes for women which reverses the expected location of the heels and insole. the user must
pointe their foot to insert into the shoe’s modified vamp which is inclined forward and tapers down to the toebox. the foot rests upon
a platformed toebox and is stabilized within the glove-like shoe with a brace which wraps the ankle and is secured with buckles.
spreading up the front of the shin, an angled heel projects from a tract of suede to support the individual. these ‘high-toed’ pumps
instead position the leather sole to cover the arch of the foot.