Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art History

Committee Chair

Kristina Olson.

Committee Co-Chair

Janet Snyder

Committee Member

Jane B. Donovan

Committee Member

Cynthia Persinger


For Andy Warhol (1928-1987), images meant for commercial advertisement, tabloid publication, and entertainment were not merely meaningless reflections of a commodity and media-obsessed world -- they were sacred. In 1986, the Pop artist based the last major series of his career on a reproduction of a Renaissance masterpiece, Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (1495-97/98, figure 1). Given the slick packaging of Warhol's oeuvre and his cool public persona, it would be easy to dismiss these late paintings as a cynical comment on the proliferation of images in American society. Viewing The Last Supper series from the perspectives of biography, psychology, and cultural identity, however, has led to a startling conclusion that refutes decades of postmodern analysis categorizing Warhol as a shallow artist limiting himself to the simulacral surface. The son of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants and a devout Byzantine Catholic, Warhol's relationship with the visual image was formed by a rich cultural heritage in which icons, or holy pictures, are experienced as sacred doorways that make the unseen world real. Although he convincingly played the role of a scheming hipster defiantly blurring the line between commercial and fine art, Warhol's style and technique expose his lifelong connection to the religious imagery with which he grew up.