Thomas Krens, Director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, today announced that the exhibition Andy Warhol: The Last Supper, which features works from the artist's monumental final series, will open on July 1 on the second floor of the Guggenheim Museum SoHo. The works will be on long-term loan to the museum.
"Andy Warhol is undoubtedly one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, and 'The Last Supper' series is a remarkable achievement," said Krens. "We're delighted to be able to present these works at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo and to make them available for an extended period of time."
Peter Brant, a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the co-owner, with Heiner Friedrich, of numerous works in "The Last Supper" series, stated, "Heiner and I are very interested in finding a permanent home for this extraordinary series of works. It is vital to both of us that the works be kept together and displayed in a public institution. Exhibiting them as a group at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo is a wonderful way to make these important paintings accessible to the viewing public."
Through his art, ideas, and style, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) left a lasting imprint on the history of modern art and on our culture. Warhol first came on the art scene in the early 1960s, and, like other Pop artists, used found printed images from newspapers, publicity stills, and advertisements as his subject matter. Working with the material of contemporary mass culture, Warhol embraced subjects that had traditionally been considered debased, from celebrity figures and food labels to kitsch religious reproductions.
As the 1970s unfolded, Warhol developed into a media star in his own right and he was devoted to portraying the glamorous and the would-be glamorous members of his social sphere. In the 1980s, Warhol started making works derived from those of other major artists, including Botticelli, Raphael, De Chirico, and Munch. With "The Last Supper," Warhol finds his last grand theme and series.
Created in the final year of the artist's life, "The Last Supper" series (1986-87) is a reflection on one of the most revered paintings in the history of art: Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (1495-97). As with much of Warhol's work, "The Last Supper" series is based more on reproductions of a famous image than on the image itself. Working from photographs, outline drawings, and inexpensive plastic models, Warhol repeatedly worked variations on the scene depicting Jesus Christ surrounded by his disciples. In so doing, Warhol returned to many of the issues that had informed his oeuvre since the early 1960s: notions of "high" and "low" art; the intersection of the worlds of art, commerce, and religion; the problem of creating an authentic contemporary version of reality; and the central role of the graphic image in the late twentieth century.
The paintings in "The Last Supper" series were created for the gallery rooms of a Milan bank located directly opposite the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo's Last Supper is located. Warhol considered the project crucially important to his life and work, and devoted a far more intensive effort to it than the commission and the available space actually demanded. Indeed, the overall extent of the series indicates an almost obsessive involvement on Warhol's part. Although it is not widely known, Warhol was raised and remained a devout Catholic during his life, and a copy of Leonardo's painting reputedly hung in his family home in Pittsburgh when he was growing up.The Guggenheim Museum SoHo, located at 575 Broadway, at the corner of Prince Street, has been closed since January for renovation. Changes to the space include the relocation of both the museum entrance, which will be through the main building doors at 575 Broadway, and the Guggenheim Museum Store, which has been moved to the north end of the building. Work continues on the ground-floor space; plans include the opening of another museum entrance from Mercer Street. Hours for the Guggenheim Museum SoHo will be Thursday through Monday, 11 am to 6 pm, and for the Guggenheim Museum Store will be Monday through Saturday, 10:30 am to 7 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.
The Guggenheim Museum SoHo first opened to the public in June 1992. It was designed by distinguished architect Arata Isozaki. The museum has hosted several noteworthy exhibitions, including "The Hugo Boss Prize" (1996, 1998), "Bill Viola: Fire, Water, Breath" (1997), "Mediascape" (1996), "Max Beckmann in Exile" (1996), "Gary Hill" (1995), "Scream Against the Sky: Japanese Art after 1945" (1994), "Paul Klee at the Guggenheim Museum" (1993), "Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s" (1992), and "Marc Chagall and the Jewish Theater" (1992). The exhibition is made possible by support from The Brant Foundation, which provides loans of contemporary art to cultural institutions worldwide, and the Ayn Foundation.
June 21, 1999
FOR PRESS INFORMATION: Betsy Ennis
Director of Public Affairs