A new exhibit in Brooklyn is throwing a spotlight on a side of the artist most people might not know about.
As a pop art pioneer, Andy Warhol blazed his way to fame with trademark Brillo soap pad boxes and silk-screens of Campbell’s Soup cans.
But a new museum exhibit shows pop art was just a seven-year phase for Warhol in the 1960s, before his 1980s plunge into abstract art and Christian imagery, particularly his versions of “The Last Supper.”
Flippant, brazen and flamboyant as an art world personality, Warhol long kept private his devout, lifelong Catholicism.
“Only his closest confidants knew he was a religious person and frequently went to Mass,” said Sharon Matt Atkins, coordinating curator of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade,” which opens on June 18.
Little known is that Warhol attended church in the plush, Upper East Side of Manhattan, a world away from his famed downtown Factory studio complex, frequented by the eccentric and outlandish,
In his middle age, he began exploring religious themes in his art.
“After Warhol turned 50, he began a reassessment of his career,” Atkins said. “We also start to see Warhol reflecting on the inevitability of his own death.”
In the year before he died — at age 58 in 1987 — Warhol created more than 100 works that were offshoots of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” fresco in Milan.
“For an artist obsessed with death … the Lord’s final repast functioned as the consummate disaster painting,” Joseph Ketner said in the exhibition catalog,
“The image of Christ and disciples obsessed him,” added Ketner, who curated the show for the Milwaukee Art Museum, where the exhibition was first on view.