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  • Executed in 1986, The Last Supper/Be a Somebody with a Body is a magnum opus of Andy Warhol’s continued investigations on his final and most comprehensive series that ultimately coalesces his lifelong concerns with the human body and the pursuit of beauty. Initially conceived in 1984 as a commission for the gallerist Alexandre Iolas, the Last Supper series traces Warhol’s transformation of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper at the rectory of the Santa Maria Stella Grazie in Milan, into reflections of his own vernacular through appropriation, repetition, and seriality. Juxtaposing the figure of Christ with the image of a bodybuilder frequently rendered in his oeuvre, the present work “crowns the series of this title,” as expressed by Jane Dillenberger, by exemplifying a striking extension of Warhol’s epic series whilst self-referencing his own imagery with dual impact.i

     

     

    The present work installed at Andy Warhol: The Last Supper, Ayn Foundation, Marfa, September 2005 – May 2021.  Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    The present work installed at Andy Warhol: The Last Supper, Ayn Foundation, Marfa, September 2005 – May 2021.  Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     

     

    Reimagining da Vinci was not a new endeavor for Warhol. Having riffed off the Italian master’s Mona Lisa in the 1960s, he had more recently returned to Leonardo in that same year with his series of Details in Renaissance Paintings. Exceeding the demands of Iolas’ commission—which entailed 22 paintings displayed at his January 1984 exhibition in Milan—Warhol would continue to engage with the subject through the end of his life. Producing over 100 variations on the theme within the span of just two years, Warhol would ultimately create the largest series of religious-themed works with The Last Supper, not just within his own oeuvre, but for any artist in the United States. 

     

     


    [left] Andy Warhol, Colored Mona Lisa, 1963. Private Collection, Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York [right] Andy Warhol’s studio, 1987. Image: Evelyn Hofer/Getty Images, Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     

     

    Enraptured with his new subject, Warhol executed two series based on two distinct sources. The first was a series of silkscreens derived from a 19th century reproduction of the da Vinci which comprise works such as Sixty Last Suppers and The Last Supper (Pink) (Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh), as well as The Camouflage Last Supper (Menil Collection, Houston). The second series encompasses hand-painted works molded after a line drawing, including The Last Supper (Museum of Modern Art, New York), The Last Supper / Be Somebody with a Body (Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh), and the present work.

     

     


    Andy Warhol, The Last Supper / Be Somebody with a Body (detail), Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Image: The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., Artwork: © 2021 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society, New York

     

     

    In The Last Supper/Be a Somebody with a Body, Warhol homes in on the protagonist as seen in Leonardo’s original, thereby obscuring the scene wherein Christ is offering the bread—his flesh—in the Eucharist. Here, Warhol himself offers the flesh instead by compositionally cropping out Christ’s bread of life and juxtaposing the image of the brawny bodybuilder in its place. Dillenberger observes of the present work, “In this large painting the two images are adjacent to each other, enlarging the meanings of both. The Christ, large in size and physicality, seems to reach with his left hand toward the young man linking the Christ with the smiling young man whose head is haloed. The black contours of Christ are inscribed against a phosphorescent white background which contrasts dramatically with the dark zone surrounding the bodybuilder. The luminosity of his body and the encompassing white radiance about his head show him transfigured and haloed.”ii 

     

     

    "Went to Martin Poll’s apartment on Park Avenue for his party for Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen…Stallone used my kind of lines on me…And for a present I gave Stallone one of those paintings, Be a Somebody with a Body, and he liked it a lot."
    —Andy Warhol, February 14, 1986

     

     


    [left] Muscle Training magazine, July 1979. The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. [right] Warhol working out with Soho Training Center owner Lidija Cengic at the Factory, 860 Broadway, June 18, 1982. Image: © Christopher Makos

     

     

    The latter half of the work’s title references Warhol’s familiar, stand-alone compositions of the bodybuilder, often believed to represent the famous actor Sylvester Stallone, likely due to his well-known series of the famous actor at the turn of the 1980s. Ultimately, the artist’s bodybuilder began as an adaptation of an advertisement on the back of a muscle magazine. Since the beginnings of his career, Warhol perpetually reflected his perpetual fascination with presentation, appearances, and beauty through his explorative treatments of the human body. “[Warhol’s] connection to Pop art starts with the body,” Jessica Beck explained.iii “With the bodybuilder, there’s a trying on of masculinity or a performing masculinity that comes out. It’s an extreme exaggeration of an ideal.”v 

     

     

    "I really feel the body is so beautiful…beauty is sort of beauty to different people. And my kind of beauty might be different from your kind of beauty."
    —Andy Warhol

     

     

    [left] Warhol, Before and After, 4, 1962. Whitney Museum [right] Warhol, Portrait of Jean-Michel as David, 1984. Private Collection, Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    [left] Warhol, Before and After, 4, 1962. Whitney Museum of Art, New York, Image: © Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York  [right] Warhol, Portrait of Jean-Michel as David, 1984. Private Collection, Artwork: © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     

     

    Warhol’s romanticized rendering of the muscular young body oscillates between irony and desire, reality and representation, interiority and exteriority. Here, the artist colligates this reflexive relationship across the canvas with the image of Christ, the two figures in a dialectical opposition with conceptual and visual force—religious and secular, black and white. In true Warholian fashion, The Last Supper/Be a Somebody with a Body presents a most spectacular manifestation of the artist’s words: “Pop is just taking the outside and putting it on the inside or taking the inside and putting it on the outside.”v 


    i Jane Dagget Dillenberger, The Religious Art of Andy Warhol, New York, 1998, p. 87.
    ii Ibid., p. 88.
    iii Jessica Beck, quoted in Cristina Rouvalis, “My Perfect, Imperfect Body,” Carnegie Magazine, Fall 2016.
    iv Jessica Beck, quoted in Emily Colucci, “Be Somebody With A Body: Curator Jessica Beck on Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body,” Art F City, October 27, 2016.
    v Andy Warhol, quoted in Kenneth Goldman, ed., I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, New York, 2009, p. 90.

    • Provenance

      The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York
      The Brant Foundation, Greenwich
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Ayn Foundation, 1995-1998
      Munich, Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen/Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, May 27 – September 27, 1998, no. 13, pp. 70, 143 (illustrated, p. 71 and on the front cover)
      New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum SoHo, Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, June 24, 1999 - May 2001
      Marfa, Ayn Foundation, Andy Warhol: The Last Supper, September 2005 – May 2021

    • Literature

      Jane Dagget Dillenberger, The Religious Art of Andy Warhol, New York, 1998, fig. 61, pp. 87, 128 (installation view illustrated, p. 88; titled as Be Somebody With a Body (With Christ of Last Supper))

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Known as the “King of Pop,” Andy Warhol was the leading face of the Pop Art movement in the United States in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects like Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity, and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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Property from an Esteemed Private Collection

Ο ◆33

The Last Supper/Be a Somebody with a Body

acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
118 1/8 x 231 1/8 in. (300 x 587.1 cm)
Executed in 1986.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$6,000,000 - 8,000,000 

Sold for $6,806,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021