The Last Supper by Warhol in Milan, the meeting of the king of Pop Art with Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius

Andy Warhol was in Milan on January 22, 1987, when at the Stelline in Corso Magenta, then the headquarters of Credito Valtellinese, the exhibition «Andy Warhol. The Last Supper» was inaugurated. Here he is: the hair as a Mozart’s wig. The black sweatshirt. Goggles. Looking like a kid — by then, very thin and quiet — which is being photographed besides the two friars, back turned on his yellow «Last Supper». If he looks out he sees Santa Maria delle Grazie church, in the refectory of which there’s the “true” last supper painted on a wall by Leonardo Da Vinci. The original is much ruined; but Warhol is not interested in the original. The idea of making the king of Pop meet with the the Renaissance’s genius had come three years before to his American gallery, Alexandre Iolas. Warhol had put himself to work, as usual, on reproductions: postcards, advertisements, photographs, posters, plates, cups… There came a hundred variations on the theme, from the micro to the extra-large of the «Sixty Last Suppers», the work of Leonardo repeated 60 times in black and white that, seen from afar, looks like a palace designed by Le Corbusier, or by Terragni. Curiously, it was auctioned in 2017, together with the “Salvator Mundi” by (perhaps) Leonardo.

Already on January 21, Warhol was in Milan. That evening, we know that he went to dinner in the little theater of Krizia, arriving late. On the evening of the 22, he was a guest of the antiquarian Dino Franzin, master of the Art de la table: impeccable laying of the tables with vermeil cutlery. On the evening of the 23, he changes register: goes to the Plastic club invited by Elio Fiorucci. In one of those nights, the young art dealer Phlippe Daverio was present, which will leave a memorable aphorism caught by Lina Sotis: “The only particularity in the lives of the great artists, is the banality”. Warhol explained his work on the Last Supper: «I’ve worked for two years. At the beginning I thought to make copies of it by hand, but since neither was as good as the original, I thought of using my old photographic technique. My Upper Room is ten feet by twenty, and resembles, in style, the panel of Marilyn Monroe and the one on the Campbell soup». To those who asked him if it was a fake, he answered: «Long live the fakes. They are one of the most brilliant inventions in the history of art». The great critic Renato Barilli was not entirely convinced: «Two out of the three full-size reproductions, which he dedicates to the Upper Room (with serigraphies brought on canvas) are simply color turns, the first in yellow the other in cold and off pink».

Warhol died a month after the opening of the exhibition in Milan, February 22 in New York. Although he did not take part in the sacraments, he was a fervent catholic — certainly more than Leonardo — and he used to attend Mass. In the eulogy, he was remembered as a devout person: “He was very proud of having funded his nephew’s studies for priesthood”.

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