The Sacrament of the Last Supper

Salvador Dali, The Sacrament of the Last Supper, 1955. Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) was a Spanish artist who worked in a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, and film, but is best known for his surrealist paintings. His paintings are characterized by their Renaissance-like realism in tension with bizarre and fantastical subject matter. After World War II, Dalí became a devout Catholic and turned his focus to religious subject matter. Works such as The Sacrament of the Last Supper combine Dalí’s religious ideology with his interest in science and the “atomic age” of the 1950s, a style which Dalí himself labeled as “Nuclear Mysticism.” Christ sits at the center of a long table, around which the twelve apostles are seated, bowing their heads. Behind him, we see futuristic architectural forms bleeding into a mystical landscape. A disembodied torso, perhaps an image of God the Father or the Holy Spirit—or even Jesus himself ascending into heaven—hovers above the scene, perhaps enacting the transubstantiation of the bread and wine.

last-supper-dali

Associated with a deity; exhibiting religious importance; set apart from ordinary (i.e. "profane") things.

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