Today's Gospel in Art - I still have many things to say to you

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Last Supper, by Andy Warhol 1986, © Phillips New York, 17 May 2018, lot 14, sold for $8,2 million

Last Supper, by Andy Warhol 1986, © Phillips New York, 17 May 2018, lot 14, sold for $8,2 million

Gospel of 20th May 2020 - John 16:12-15

Jesus said, 'I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.'

Reflection on the Painting

Jesus is nearing His own death, and He is pouring out the depth of His love to His disciples… and to us as His followers. As in yesterday's reading, we see a further display of Jesus' full humanity: 'I still have many things to say to you'. It is the type of sentence we would use with our friends. Jesus spoke these words at the Last Supper. He realised that there was much more He wanted to express but He could not say it, because maybe the disciples wouldn't have understood everything. So instead, He washed their feet…. He broke the bread… and shared the wine…

This painting by Andy Warhol, executed in 1986, belongs to the final body of work that Andy Warhol completed before his untimely death. The series of paintings of Da Vinci's Last Supper treated the masterpiece in Warhol's typical unique visual language of appropriation, seriality, screen-printing and repetition.

Although Da Vinci's The Last Supper is one of the world's most celebrated and studied works of art, it has not existed in its original form for 500 years as the original deteriorated within a few years of its completion due to Leonardo's experimental techniques. So the studies and restoration of the work, also rely on engravings, reproductions, old prints which themselves vary over the centuries according to the stages of erosion, restoration and the artist's own ability to faithfully reproduce the fresco. In a way, Da Vinci's work is an impossible work to reproduce. Even photography can only do a partial job. Indeed, Warhol himself tried unsuccessfully on and off for a year to work from photographs which he found too dark to convey detail for his purposes. Warhol was mesmerised by the beauty of the fresco and admitted he could never do it justice to reproduce it in any way. He tellingly signed a petition in the midst of working on the series against the restoration of The Last Supper, stating, "I only know that it is a mistake to restore - it is unbelievably beautiful."


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Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Andy Warhol

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