Along with iconic soup cans and eccentric downtown lifestyle, ’60s pop artist Andy Warhol also harbored a fascination with religion and quietly frequent a tony Upper East Side church to attend services. Toward the end of his life it became an obsession.
The influence of religion is reflected in some of his later works and the Brooklyn Museum exhibit “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade,” which opens on June 18, is highlighting that period of his life.
He turned to religious themes in the 1980s portraying Christian imagery in abstract art, and his most notable pieces is probably his version of “The Last Supper.”
“Only his closest confidants knew he was a religious person and frequently went to Mass,” Sharon Matt Atkins, coordinating curator of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit told Reuters.
Warhol’s interest in religion came after he turned 50. He began reassessing his career and also likely began to see the inevitability of his own death.
Indeed, he died eight years later at 58 in 1987. By then, Warhol had painted more than 100 works based on Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
“For an artist obsessed with death … the Lord’s final repast functioned as the consummate disaster painting,” Joseph Ketner writes in the exhibition catalog.
“The image of Christ and disciples obsessed him,” added Ketner, who curated the show for the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Three of the show’s Last Supper works are monumental, ranging between 25 feet to 35 feet in length, one of which is bathed in canary yellow.
A quartet of Christs with a trio of motorcycles, a swooping red eagle and a $6.99 price tag are emblematic of Warhol’s outward irreverence but also his inner spirituality, according to Atkins.
The largest canvas has 112 portraits of Christ that reflect his portrayal in Byzantine art.
The Brooklyn Museum exhibition includes videos from Warhol’s TV series including his MTV program “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes.”