From 6 October to 11 November 2012, De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam will be exhibiting a religious and spiritual masterpiece ‘The Last Supper (pink)’ by Andy Warhol. It is the first time since 1987 that the over seven metre wide pink canvas, from the collection of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, will be coming to Europe.
Andy Warhol’s (1928–1987) source of inspiration was the monumental fresco by Leonardo da Vinci (1498) in the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, possibly the most famous of all representations of this subject. In 1986 Warhol made a series based on this fresco, as a commission for an art dealer, and the series was displayed opposite the Santa Maria delle Grazie the following year. Soon after this exhibition, on 22 February 1987, Warhol died in New York.
Few people were aware of Warhol’s devout religious faith during his lifetime. In this work, Warhol juxtaposed two versions of the famous fresco in order to give the figures a different emotional charge. His choice of the colour pink may have been inspired by its associations with babies, vitality, and life. The figures are black, invoking connotations of death, especially that of Jesus, whose death in turn represents eternal life. Life and death are closely intertwined. With this work, Warhol professed his veneration for Da Vinci’s masterpiece, and provided a new way of looking at it.
In 2011, De Nieuwe Kerk initiated a new tradition of displaying a religious masterpiece from a museum or private collection every autumn, starting with The Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645). The featured choice may be related to any world religion.
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