Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    New York (made)

  • Date:

    1975 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nessim, Barbara, born 1939 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Red earthenware, handbuilt, with incised decoration and coloured glazes

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the artist

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Sculptural ceramic work in the form of a high-heeled sandal, with incised decoration and green, turquoise, black, grey, red, yellow and transparent glazes.

Place of Origin

New York (made)


1975 (made)


Nessim, Barbara, born 1939 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Red earthenware, handbuilt, with incised decoration and coloured glazes

Marks and inscriptions

'© Barbara Nessim '75', handwritten on base in black pigment

'3/75' incised on base


Height: 14.5 cm, Length: 20.0 cm, Width: 7.4 cm

Object history note

Barbara Nessim writes:

"I was doing all those 2D shoe paintings and I was curious to see them in 3D. My good friend and artist Ruth Marten created a lot of ceramic art and had a kiln in the basement of her mothers house in Queens NY. One day, in 1973, I drove out there and we worked together in her basement. It is made out of white stoneware - I was asking her questions as I was building my shoe with the clay and she was giving me advice as to getting all the air out of the clay and the preparing of the material before starting the making of the shoe. She was working on her own art that day and it was so much fun working side by side. After it was put in the Kiln and fired I went back and put the glaze on the white shoe - I had to approximate the color, utilizing low fire glazes, and was uncertain as to exactly what would be the outcome. After the firing Ruth transported the shoe to me at my studio. I had planned to go back and do some more but I was so busy I never returned.

The terracotta shoe was made in 1975 at a pottery workshop in Manhattan. I loved making the first shoe so much I wanted to continue and found this place in NYC. I think it was made at the New School, that is my recollection, which had a pottery workshop and kiln etc. and was close to my apartment which was also my studio - I followed Ruth's directions and also learned new things from the instructor. Because it was a class, many pieces were put in the Kiln at the same time. One of the students pieces exploded in the kiln and my piece fell over and broke the heel. (I was disappointed it happened and I loved the shoe so I wanted to "save" it) I think the instructor suggested what I could use to "glue" it back together but I don't remember what I used - It probably was an epoxy of some sort. It would be fine if the conservators thought they could repair it so it would not have the white glue line. I'd love to know what they would do to conserve it if that is possible - if not they can work their magic and I can speak to them when I get to London - sorry I don't know what kind of glue or epoxy I used."

Quoted in an email from Doug Dodds, 26/03/2013, RF/2013/103

Descriptive line

Shoe, red earthenware, Barbara Nessim, USA, 1975

Labels and date

Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life (V&A, 2013; Bard Graduate Center Gallery, 2014-15)

Shoe sculptures
1973 and 1975

In addition to the fantasy designs and the Carber range of commercially produced shoes, Nessim also created these two unique ceramic shoes. She made the first in the basement of her artist friend Ruth Marten's house in Queens, New York, and the other at a pottery workshop in Manhattan.

Glazed earthenware
Museum nos. C.1, 2-2013 [2013]




Ceramics; Studio Pottery


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.