Peter Greenaway is a fellow who has often had genuine Ideas; they’re not always good, or pleasant to sit through, but they have challenged his viewers (stomachs and patience, mostly), and that’s something. His films, while not particularly good cinema, (and very sodden philosophy) are made by an excited, painterly eye, determined to find rich texture and lusciousness.
He is intelligent, complex, and explores his themes for artistic surprises, not simply provocation.
But, c’mon… he’s using Mouret’s “Rondeau”? That should tell you everything you need to know about the dearth of ideas in his new show, “Leonardo’s Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway,” at the Park Avenue Armory until 06 January.
From Holland Cotter’s thoroughly unimpressed review in the New York Times:
Special effects kick in. Images projected onto the replicated painting make figures look three-dimensional. The light in the depicted scene changes; sometimes seeming to come from above, sometimes from a mysterious background source. One group of apostles is momentarily spotlighted as the others fade into darkness; another group is set off with diagrammatic outlines. At regular intervals the whole scene goes dim except for the figure of Jesus, which radiates beams like a searchlight.
Meanwhile, on the surrounding scrims, details of the painting appear, some filmed so close up as to look like aerial views of landscapes. At times the all-white table glows orange or red like a lamp or a “Star Trek” prop. Religious music plays throughout.
All of this goes on for a half-hour or so.