Tongue + Chic: Exhibition of sneakers as artwork

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Phillips is known for auctioning some of the finest art in the world. So what happens when you put fine art on the most coveted sneakers around? You get Tongue + Chic, an exhibition that blurs the line between wearable fashion and work of art.

Phillips has shoes by Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Daniel Arsham, Kaws, and the Shoe Surgeon, says Jean-Paul Engelen, the worldwide co-head of contemporary art. About 20 pairs of designer-exclusive sneakers are on display. You can see them all for free at Phillips on 57th Street and Park Avenue through August 31.

Phillips tells the story of the shoes and shares a bit about the history of sneaker culture, too. One of the biggest moments in that history is when Nike signed Michael Jordan in 1984. In 1985, the Air Jordan came out and, Jean-Paul says, changed everything.

Nike is well represented here, whether it's the Kith x Nike LeBron James XV Long Live the King Part II, designed for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, or Jimm Lasser's tribute to President Obama, the Nike Obama Force One from 2008.

But the Nikes are only the beginning.

Daniel Arsham has a shoe called Past. Jean-Paul describes Daniel as an artist who really looks at time and how objects would appear if we found them 20 years from now.

There is a Damien Hirst Collaboration with Converse which was made for the charity RED.

There are Vans with skulls on them by Takashi Murakami. Those skulls were originally featured in a series of Murakami paintings inspired by Yves Klein.

There's even a Puma soccer cleat that was designed by Kehinde Wiley for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

Perhaps the most important sneakers of all are a custom pair designed by The Shoe Surgeon to raise awareness of and funds to fight modern slavery. The Shoe Surgeon is known for making sneakers for DJ Khaled and Drake.

TBWAChiatDay NY commissioned the shoes on behalf of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. You can bid on the charity sneakers on August 6–29. All proceeds benefit the Thomson Reuters Foundation anti-slavery initiatives.

The exhibition is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays) through the end of August.

Phillips New York | 450 Park Avenue, New York NY 10022 | 212-940-1200 |