The Last Supper

We went to view The Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway this past weekend at the Park Avenue Armory. No photography was permitted, and even if it was allowed, any images captured would fail to depict the the experience of the exhibit.

The Last Supper is a video exhibition in my opinion celebrating the architectural and artistic culture of Italy. There are three parts of the video exhibition. It started with an introduction to Italian cities like Rome and Venice; two of my favorite places in Italy. Followed by an interesting visual orchestration of the famous painting of The Last Supper. The exhibition concluded with the painting depicting the The Wedding at Cana by Veronese. The video below is a fraction of the exhibition.

The exhibition runs approximately 45 minutes. When the exhibition begins, we were herded into a dark room which was immediately illuminated with the moving images and videos projected onto screens. There was very limited seating but mainly, we stood surrounded by iconic architecture from Milan, Rome, and Venice. Roberto Bolle (see Perchance to Dream post) also made several appearances on screen as he danced across the backdrop of Italian cities.

Then we were herded into another space which featured a minimal take on the table from The Last Supper. On the other end was the image of the painting of The Last Supper. Although there were images projected elsewhere, the focus was this area of The Last Supper where the 2-dimensional painting came alive as a 3-dimensional sculpture with depth. Hands were highlights and glowed with emphasis along with certain notes to the music. Feet that were perhaps never noticed before were made apparent. There were even moments where the faces of the painting moved as if to speak or express lively conversation. There was also a play on light and shadow, which either highlighted specific characters in the painting or made them irrelevant. The music that accompanied The Last Supper was somber and dramatic, almost reminded me of a murder mystery.

When The Last Supper finished, we shuffled back to the first space where The Wedding at Cana by Veronese was presented. In this last presentation, there was a narrative who I assumed to be the voice of Mr. Greenaway offering his interpretations of the design and symbolisms of the painting. There were several comments that I found interesting. It was suggested that perhaps the original painting featured the wedding of Jesus to Mary Magdalene but seeing as this idea of Jesus was frowned upon, Mary was replaced with his mother in the painting. It was also suggested that the artist also painted himself as one of the attendees of the banquet. The narrator further explains that Veronese would be one of the musicians, the one playing the violin looking instrument. This is suggested because that figure is the only one dress in complete white.

I must admit that I was skeptical about the exhibition especially as it cost $15 USD but after having seen it, I highly recommend anyone in New York City to go see this. This particular exhibit is part of a series of on-going exploration of viewing classical painting with modern technology. It’s really quite a visual experience. For more information about this exploration, click here.  I also want to stress that it’s a predominantly standing exhibition so if you’re weak in the knees, better bring one of those portable chairs. 

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