Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 31 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Ignatius Loyola
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The Vatican Museums to host exhibition on Andy Warhol’s religious art


Andy Warhol | Fair Use

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/26/18

The enigmatic artist was a lifelong, practicing Catholic.

The Vatican Museums are finalizing plans to present an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s religious works, according to an article in The Art Newspaper.

The exhibition, which will be seen in Rome and Pittsburgh some time in 2019, will be staged in cooperation with Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum.

Better known for his iconic prints of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup cans, Warhol, was also a lifelong Catholic. His parents, who were Slovakian immigrants, raised him in the Ruthenian rite, an Eastern rite in communion with Rome.

Among the works expected to be exhibited, according to The Art Newspaper, are paintings from Warhol’s Last Supper series (1986) and memento mori silkscreens of skulls.

“We are very interested in exploring the artist’s spiritual side,” said Barbara Jatta, the director of the Vatican Museums.

“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,” continued Jatta.

Few knew the religious side of the late artist, according to Sharon Matt Atkins, the curator of a 2010 exhibition of Warhol’s religious art.

“Only his closest confidants knew he was a religious person and frequently went to Mass,” Atkins told Reuters.

In an article in Aleteia, Kathy Schiffer, investigated the late artist’s spiritual side, and reported that he lived his life as a faithful Catholic.

“Widely believed to be homosexual, he remained celibate and was, according to his closest associates, still a virgin at the time of his death,” wrote Schiffer.

Warhol was an active philanthropist who supported and regularly volunteered at a soup kitchen operated by the Church of the Heavenly Rest, an Episcopal church on E. 90th Street, in New York City. When his nephew decided he wanted to become a priest, Warhol financed his studies at the seminary.

At the eulogy at Warhol’s funeral art historian John Richardson said that the artist’s faith was key to understanding him.

“I’d like to recall a side of his character that he hid from all but his closest friends: his spiritual side. Those of you who knew him in circumstances that were the antithesis of spiritual may be surprised that such a side existed. But exist it did, and it’s key to the artist’s psyche,” said Richardson.

In the 1980s the spiritual side of Warhol became more evident in his work. The year before he died at 58 years of age, in 1987, Warhol painted more than 100 images inspired by Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.”

Among these were three that are larger than life, measuring 25 feet by 35 feet in length. His spiritual works have an irreverent side, particularly one (pictured above) which juxtaposes a quartet of Christs with a trio of motorcycles, a swooping red eagle and a $6.99 price tag.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Mathilde De Robien
Did you know Princess Di was buried with a rosary?
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Lauren Daigle
J-P Mauro
After 3 years Lauren Daigle ousts herself from #1 Billboard spot
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.