Shoes as Artwork

by Megan Budden

I’ve always thought of shoes as more than mere barriers between the ground and the feet.  Certain shoes can be works of art when you notice the innovative use of color, material, architectural form, or even the absence of these elements.  Rene van den Berg has taken this concept of shoes as art one step furthur and has created a number of abstract shoe sculptures.

Rene van den Berg began by making orthopeadic shoes in 1981.  After eight years gaining experience and knowledge in the business and creation of shoes, he decided to go it alone and opened up his own business in 1991.  With the freedom allowed in working for himself, he was able to pursue new design ideas and he began to create shoes for theatre productions, fashion shows, musicals, and custom made shoes for private clients.

Now, after more than 25 years in the business, his clients include Thierry Mugler, Art of Vanity, Orson & Bodil, Joop van den Ende Theaterproducties, Het Nedarlands Dans Theater, and even members of the Royal family.

As his business began to grow and the shoes, specifically the heel designs, became more complicated, he began to run into a few problems.  When you are manufacturing the heel of a shoe you first need to make a mold.  However, the heels of Van den Berg’s shoe designs were so intricate that he was no longer able to create an accurate mold.  Thus, he began to model the shoes he was creating first by using wire to help visulalize how to then create the mold.

This experiment with wire created visually interesting pieces so Van den Berg took it one step furthur.  He developed these wire blueprints of the shoes he designed into pieces of sculpture by having them bronzed.

The results were fantastic.  The obvious architectural influence is inhanced by the simplicity of the sculptures.  Viewing shoes as art has never been more obvious.

Rene van den Berg currently works out of his studio in Hoofddorp and you can see examples of his work on his website http://renevandenberg.nl.

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