Putting the spotlight on a single work from the Crystal Bridges permanent collection, a new focus exhibition opening this Saturday, July 11 features After The Last Supper (2005) by Devorah Sperber. Made up of an astounding 20,736 thread spools, the work uses an unexpected material on an epic scale to turn art history on its head.
Sperber based the work on The Last Supper, an iconic painting by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. She created a life-size version of the original painting in thread spools, resulting in what looks like a pixelated, abstracted version of Leonardo’s work. Sperber also rotated the image, so that it appears upside down and backward to the viewer. When the image is seen through a clear viewing sphere, however, it rotates to the correct orientation and becomes more easily recognizable as the famous original.
The work plays with our perception as it shifts from an abstracted grid of spools to a familiar scene. Sperber is interested in the scientific aspects of perception and vision, much as Leonardo was during his lifetime. In our installation, new interpretive engagements will explore the complex relationship between science, vision, and art, and offer fresh ways to think about this captivating work.
After The Last Supper was last on view at Crystal Bridges during the Wonder World exhibition in 2011-2012. Because the thread is sensitive to light and needs time resting in storage—and because of the complex nature of the installation—this is the first time in years that visitors will be able to experience the impressive work in person. Another work by Sperber in the collection, After Grant Wood (American Gothic) 2 (2006) based on the classic painting American Gothic, was on view in 2018 in the Contemporary Art Galleries.
After The Last Supper will be on view through March 28, 2021 in the Early American Art Gallery. It is free to view.
Sponsored by Randy and Valorie Lawson/Lawco Energy Group and JT and Imelda Rose.
This post was written by Jen Padgett, associate curator, Crystal Bridges.