There's a big painting by Salvador Dali, called The Sacrament Of The Last Supper, that hangs in the National Gallery in DC. While popular, it has always remained controversial.
My theory: Dali was a big critical hit until he started doing paintings that were properly proportioned and pretty.
Paul Tillich, the famous German theologian, intensely disliked it. Michael Anthony Novak, a theologian from Marquette University, defends it in a pdf here.
I've admired it for a long time. I like a lot of Dali's more realistic-looking paintings, but this is my favorite. I even like it better than his hypercube crucifixion, which I like very much.
I wrote a sonnet years ago about the hypercube crucifixion, and I have tried, in the past, to write one about this last supper painting. But it has tripped me up, perhaps because of its mysterious air. I was unhappy with my results. But, having seen the painting in person again, last month, I have dared a new attempt.
The other heads are bowed, but his is not.
He seems immune to what has humbled them.
Glimpsing the darkness, seeing through the plot,
He beams with light, transparent as a gem.
Behind him, rocks and sea. Before, red wine
And broken bread. He casts a shadow far
Into the future. Some obscure design
Surrounds them; something hovers where they are.
For me it is his face that makes the painting.
He wonders at the beauty of the world.
The petals of his inner rose unfurl.
There will be time enough for fateful straining.
He contemplates beneath a glowing sky.
I search for words and worship with my eye.