Shedding Light on Da Vinci´s "Last Supper"

Exhibition Focuses on a Milestone in History of Art

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MILAN, Italy, MAR. 21, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The history of art is divided into «before» and «after» Leonardo da Vinci´s «Last Supper.» Or that´s how an art exhibition here sees it.

The exhibition was inaugurated today in the city that houses the 15th-century masterpiece in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

The exhibition, organized by Pietro C. Marani, displays works that range from the 13th to the 20th centuries, which help to better understand da Vinci´s masterpiece, which he painted between 1495 and 1497.

In an essay published with the exhibition´s catalogue, Marani discusses the effect this work had on writers and philosophers, including Georg W.F. Hegel and Henry James, and painters and film directors like Luis Bunuel and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Milan´s exhibition is entitled «Genius and Passions. Leonardo da Vinci: Precedents, Innovations, Reflections of a Masterpiece.» Among other works exhibited is a copy of the original brought from London, painted in the 16th century by Giampietrino. It shows the original colors of the fresco, which have now faded.

The exhibition includes some signed drawings by da Vinci, which he made in preparation for the «Last Supper.» Among them is the study of a group, and a melancholic face of Christ, dated around 1497.

The exhibition opens with old panels, including works by Gaddi, Di Bartolo and the Perugino circle. There are also post da Vinci works, which suffered in comparison to his genius, including paintings by Bramantino, Lotto, Giorgione, Titian and Del Sarto. Also among the latter are paintings by Caravaggio and Savoldo, which have traces of the «Last Supper.»

The exhibition shows how da Vinci influenced the work of Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Hogarth, Degas and Blake, not forgetting Andy Warhol´s pop art (he made many special copies of da Vinci´s masterpiece), and Daniel Spoerri´s «Nouveau Réalisme» (two Cenacles: 1987 and 1988).

With the painting, Da Vinci was able to transmit some of the drama of St. John´s Gospel. The Italian artist isolated Christ in the center of the composition, and aligned the apostles, who were overwhelmed by Christ´s words: One of them, one of his chosen, would betray his Master.

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