Selections from The Last Supper
Selections from The Last Supper presents eleven works from the eponymous series of thirteen large-scale prints (1999) by Damien Hirst (British, born 1965). These label-like images are derived from pharmaceutical packaging––a theme Hirst has employed since the late 1980s––where he uses the names of foods traditional to working class British cafe culture, such as "beans and chips" or "steak and kidney" to replace the names of various medicines. Hirst transforms the food into his own brand by adding decorative logos containing variations on his name. In the pared-down color and form represented in these works on paper, Hirst also acknowledges the minimalist concept of medical packaging and its link to the visual history of Minimalism.
Hirst has said, "I can't understand why some people believe completely in medicine and not in art, without questioning either," alluding to the idea that faith in either one is seductive and illusory. This work also calls into question the connections between medical, chemical, and food industries across the world that are masked by superficial commodity aesthetics. He lends humor and cynicism to this series and emphasizes the deceit associated with some advertising in naming it The Last Supper, a play on the fifteenth-century biblical painting of twelve apostles with Jesus at the announcement that one would betray him.
This Permanent Collection exhibition is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.