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Warhol, Andy - by Anthony Haden-Guest

Warhol's Last Supper

by Anthony Haden-Guest

Andy Warhol's final series of paintings, "The Last Supper," which was made in late 1986 and was in 1999-2001 on view at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, was a commission. The idea was hatched by the late Paris dealer, Alexander Iolas, who arranged for the work to be paid for by the Milan bank Credito-Valtellinese. The pictures were hung in the bank's new premises, just across the street from the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci's noble, dilapidated original can be seen. Warhol, as was his way, used commercial reproductions as his source material. 

The works have since been acquired by two heavy hitters of the art world, collector Peter Brant and Heiner Friedrich, the art dealer who was a progenitor of the Dia Center for the Arts. The paintings have been lent to the Guggenheim for what museum director Thomas Krens, another heavy hitter, describes as "an extended period of time." Big guns are firing here, or misfiring. 

"The Last Supper" suite is an anthology of Warhol riffs. The painting appears whole, as a double-silkscreened image, washed in the medicine-bottle hues he loved -- green, blue, yellow, rose-red -- and in details, executed by Warhol in deft outline. The show includes two big versions of the painting, Christ 112 Times, in which he repeated the image (as he had done from the very beginning of his post-commercial career, when he made paintings of repeated dollar bills). 

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