By Della Hasselle
UPPER EAST SIDE — A new exhibit that opened at the Park Avenue Armory Friday brings Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper painting to life by infusing it with light, sound and optical illusion.
Leanardo's Last Supper: A Vision By Peter Greenaway includes a detailed "clone" of the painting set within a full-scale replica of the 4,000-square-foot apse and cupola of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, where the original is housed.
Throughout the performance, complete with music, images of Italian landscapes and da Vinci's paintings sprawl over a dozen screens.
"This work will provide a transformative experience for our visitors," Park Avenue Armory President Rebecca Roberston said. "Our soaring drill hall offers an unparalleled environment to experience Greenaway's spectacular tour de force."
At one point, as light plays over the Last Supper, the images are repositioned, giving the painting crude animation. In the center of the room, a large table changes from white to red as classical music crescendos at climactic points.
"It was terrific. It's just extremely fantastic and aesthetic," Switzerland resident Rudolph Schesser, 51, said after the show, adding that the content made a classical painting immediately accessible.
At the end of the show, a narrator deconstructs the painting of the Marriage at Cana, analyzing its meaning based on the geometric positioning of Christ and those surrounding him, as the figures in the painting are given their own voices to bring the audience into the painting.
"It was majestic," store owner and Massachussets resident Mary DeRocco, 61, said. "The way he changed the sense of time – I feel very satisified now, after seeing that. I feel very rich."
Other spectators found the exhibit a little less mystical.
"It really shows the power of advertising," Upper West Side resident Jane Vern, 61, observed. "It's about demystifying, turning wine back into water."
Regardless of whether they loved it or not, the exhibit was an inspiration for contemporary artists, spectators agreed.
"Greenaway's installation also reminds us to imagine deeply the propositions of artists — past, present and those to come — who seek and offer relevant expressive truths across time, place and expectation," artistic director Kristy Edmunds said.
Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision By Peter Greenaway shows at Park Avenue Armory at 643 Park Avenue until January 6.