Completed in 1521, Hans Holbein’s painting The Body of Christ in
the Tomb stands as one of the finest and most enigmatic paintings
of the Northern Renaissance. So striking and uncompromising was it’s
stark realist depiction of death and decay (it is said that Holbein used
a corpse, pulled from the Rhine river as his subject), that in
Dostoyevsky’s 1869 novel The Idiot the character Prince
Myshkin declares it to have the power to make the viewer lose his faith.
Challenging the norms of representation in its own day, it continues to
stand to this day as one most powerful and personalized images in the
lexicon of European painting.
Evan Penny’s elongated sculpture, Homage to Holbein
(mediated as it is through painting, photography and digital imaging),
is an evocative contemporary meditation on life and death from Penny’s
perspective within the secular present.