Poetry and art and the Catholic Church

At one time Andy Warhol seemed the pinnacle of mysterious fame and glamour — beyond comprehension. He certainly seemed that way to me — and I published interviews with him in three different magazines. But when Andy died fifteen years later, it turned out he was secretly a practicing Roman Catholic. I was surprised. So were people like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I was raised Catholic. The Banal Catholic Church I call it; it’s as real as sparrows. Allen and William were not raised Catholic; now they thought they finally understood why they hated Andy.

Last Supper 759
Andy Warhol’s ambivalent Last Supper (1968) *credits at end

During my brief time of welcome at the Union Square North Factory, Andy asked me to interview anybody for his magazine, Interview. I decided to interview Daniel Berrigan, SJ, a poet and activist. Bob Colacello was Interview’s right-wing editor and he was skeptical. Nor did Dan understand Andy. Andy to Dan symbolized wealth and decadence. Colacello rejected the interview.

Interview was originally Inter-View. Gerard Malanga was the first editor of Inter-View. He viewed Andy’s magazine as an update of Charles Henri Ford‘s avant-garde magazine View. And consequently in his first issue of Gerard published poetry by Kenward Elmslie. Andy was annoyed. “No Poetry!” Andy ruled.


Poetry is not Pop Art. Catholicism however is always art.

The interviews were in Art NEWS, Small Press Review, and Unmuzzled OX [this is Michael Andre’s own publication and also the name of his blog]. The Small Press Book Fair, incidentally, was offered a free billboard on Times Square, but Suzanne Ostro, who ran the Book Fair, knew no one who could do a billboard. At her request, I offered Andy a free table for Interview if he would. Naturally he agreed. But the other exhibitors were outraged. They didn’t understand Andy either but they knew they disliked him. The billboard was never done.

*image info: Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). The Last Supper, 1986. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 116 x 390 in. (294.6 x 990.6 cm). The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. © 2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York