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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Leonardo De Vinci

Peter Greenaway: Leonardo's Last Supper (Italian/ English Edition) by Peter Greenaway, Franco Laera (Charta/Change Performing Arts) Since 2006, iconoclastic British filmmaker Peter Greenaway has been engaged in a project to reinvigorate some of the most iconic paintings in the history of art in an attempt to get people to look at them again in a new way. Using audio and projectors, Greenaway barrages the selected paintings with imagery, cinema, poetry and special effects. Of his 2006 intervention with Rembrandt's The Nightwatch (1642), the filmmaker recalls, "We burned it, flooded it and covered it in blood, but if you go there today you will find it completely untouched." This volume is published concurrently with Greenaway's performance of Leonardo's Last Supper (2008) in the Refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie friary, where Leonardo da Vinci painted his famous masterpiece. This multi-media event will take place on the occasion of the 2008 Milan Furniture Fair. Da Vinci expert Martin Kemp, Professor of Art History at Oxford University, observes, "Greenaway has a terrific understanding of how painters work, which is not true of every filmmaker. There's no need to be stuffy about these things. If Leonardo had been around he would have been into moving images. You get the sense that he wanted his paintings to move."

The book published by Charta on Peter Greenaway's Last  Supper shows the most famous painting in the world as probably only  Leonardo and his helpers saw it with the help of torches, the only  means of lighting at the time.
The photography from which the printing  devices were created for this publication is in a resolution that has  never been obtained before, and it is the largest reproduction of the  fresco to date. All this makes our book unique, and each and every page  reveals details that only restorers have had the possibility of  discovering, strokes of genius and nuances that no one except them and  Leonardo have seen. This is the only book of its kind that allows readers to get so close to the fresco they can almost . . . touch it.  All thanks to the genius of Peter Greenaway.

"It is widely believed that if da Vinci, bold, risk-taking investigator par excellence, were alive today, he would be abreast of the latest visual technologies and push their limits with great experimental vigor. Anticipating sound and movement in his painting, and certainly all the extreme potentials of lighting, an investigation into the continuity and correspondence between the language of painting and the language of cinema would have been obligatory for him. With due modesty, we have attempted some of the paths he might have taken to further arouse and stimulate awe, intellectual response, and spiritual experience with the profound moment of the Last Supper and all it prophesized and represented.
As a presentiment of the events involving light, sound, and projection in the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie as well as in other places, this book proposes a to-scale representation of Leonardo’s monumental work that shines most movingly across five centuries."--Peter Greenaway

The 160 pages in this volume represent the central section of da Vinci's Last Supper at true scale. See pdf sample pages.


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