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Vatican Pulls Out of Andy Warhol Exhibition Exploring Artist’s ‘Spiritual Side’

The Vatican Museums were due to host an exhibition of the Pop artist’s religious works, including his ‘Last Supper’ series

Andy Warhol in front of one of his ‘Last Supper’ works, 1986. Courtesy: Mondadori Portfolio, Getty Images; photograph: Giorgio Lotti

Andy Warhol in front of one of his ‘Last Supper’ works, 1986. Courtesy: Mondadori Portfolio, Getty Images; photograph: Giorgio Lotti

Andy Warhol in front of one of his ‘Last Supper’ works, 1986. Courtesy: Mondadori Portfolio, Getty Images; photograph: Giorgio Lotti

The Vatican has cancelled its plans to host a major exhibition of Andy Warhol, intended to explore the Pop artist’s ‘spiritual side’. The collaboration between Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum and the Vatican Museums aimed at showcasing Warhol’s Catholicism and the impact it had on his artistic vision, in a 2019 exhibition split across Pittsburgh (the artist’s birthplace) and the Papal Palace.

But now the Vatican has pulled out, citing a clash with its plans for a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition (next year marks the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master’s death). The Warhol Museum told Artnet News that it was still on track to show the artist’s spiritual artworks, in an exhibition opening in autumn 2019.

‘In 2019 and 2020, we’ll be having the celebration of Leonardo, and there are many projects in the museums, so for the moment I cannot confirm,’ Vatican Museums director Barbara Jatta said in an interview with Catholic publication Crux. ‘With international museums sometimes their schedules just don’t fit.’

Jatta first confirmed news of the exhibition to The Art Newspaper in January, saying that they were in the process of finalizing discussions. ‘We are very interested in exploring the artist’s spitirual side,’ she said. ‘It is very, very important for us to have a dialogue with contemporary art. We live in a world of images and the Church must be part of this conversation.’ The show was set to include works from Warhol’s ‘Last Supper’ series (after the famous Leonardo mural in Milan) and the artist’s skull silkscreens.

Born to Byzantine Catholics, Warhol kept his faith throughout his life, regularly attending mass at New York’s Church of St Vincent Ferrer. In 1980, he travelled to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II. Biographer and close friend Bob Colacello once described Warhol as a ‘religious artist for a secular society.’

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