at the last supper

We finished our workshop on the Theology of the Liturgy of the Eucharist at our Intercommunity Novitiate program. Our presenter gave us lots of food for thought - no pun intended! For part of his presentation he used a booklet of essays on the Eucharist put out in 2000 by the Archdiocese of Detroit called Living Christ's Presence. The booklet includes tons of artwork with a eucharistic theme, including these two gems which spurred great discussions in our small groups.

The first is the Sacrament of the Last Supper by Salvador Dali, 1955. The second is The Last Supper by Andy Warhol, 1986.

If you look closely at the Dali (and you can't tell it from this digital version), Jesus looks a lot like Brad Pitt. Honestly. Our table decided that this painting was more of a post-ressurection celebration of the eucharist. The bread is already broken, the participants look like priests or deacons and don't seem to be paying attention to Jesus. And he has an ethereal see-through quality. It has an Emmaus type of feel ... the know him in the breaking of the bread.

The second painting caused more debate. Does it highlight the commodification of the eucharist? Is Jesus the "Big C"? Is he for sale (6.99) or is that the cost of salvation? Do the motorcycles represent our fast pace or a journey? What about the owl and the eagle? Wisdom? Evangelization? Is it just pop art, without any of these meanings?

I was surprised to learn in our discussions that Warhol was indeed a Catholic and daily mass goer. A bit of web sleuthing confirmed this ...

Warhol continued to use imagery that had personal significance to him. Many of these images were spiritual ones, influenced by the Catholicism that permeates Warhol's art. Despite reports that he went to church almost daily, some doubt the credibility of Warhol's faith and even consider his work anti-Christian. Warhol's life was, admittedly, filled with contradictions. He was always trying to protect his true intentions, especially regarding his Catholicism. Many of Warhol's friends did not know of his religious life until after his death.

Interesting .... It is truly amazing how many artistic representations there are of the Last Supper.


Garpu said...

I saw an exhibition of some of Warhol's pencil drawings at the Henry gallery a few years ago. Amazing work, if understated. Feeling more encouraged hearing about Catholic artists like him. :)

Tom Gibbons said...

I did not know that about Warhol... that was a great post!

That's funny about "Brad Pitt" jesus. I wonder if Mary Magdeline looks like Angelina Jolie in Dahli's other paintings....

Anonymous said...

I read in a book that Andy comissioned this painting for a guy..his first name starts with a C, sorry can't remember it. The book (365 takes) said maybe it's a reference to the guy, maybe it's a reference to Christ (which you said).
Just thought I'd let ya know! :D