In which I out myself

Written by Reg Henry on .

In his column this morning "Foster's Music Gets His Gall, Doo-Dah," my learned colleague Tony Norman writes:

"I have friends who dislike Andy Warhol with a passion. They consider the late artist a fraud and a museum in his honor a concession to bad taste and hucksterism. I don't agree.

"When friends from out of town visit, a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum is usually high on the itinerary - and happily so. Even an esteemed colleague who dislikes Warhol with a passion is compelled to go to the Andy Warhol Museum several times a year because too many of his very cultured friends refuse to let him get away with a total boycott. Friends don't let friends wallow in their philistinism."

Several readers e-mailed Tony asking who this esteemed philistine was. To save Tony any awkwardness, I am here to out myself: Yes, I am the culprit.

While I fully subscribe to the sentiments about Andy Warhol ascribed to me by Tony, I am not sure I am a true philistine, as much fun as that would be. I am not a person, in the dictionary definition, who is regarded as smugly narrow in views and tastes - OK, I concede, maybe that bit is true. But I am certainly not lacking in and indifferent to cultural and aesthetic values.

My position is that Warhol is merely a talented illustrator, not a great artist. It is precisely because I have such finely tuned cultural and aesthetic values that I reject Warhol as a true artist. Besides, he was one of the earliest promoters of the cult of celebrity - which I oppose with my every last fiber.

Tony is not entirely accurate when he suggests that I take "very cultured friends" to the Andy Warhol museum "several times a year."

I go once in a while because seeing the work of a famous fraud always makes for a good day out. The friends I take are usually visiting from Australia. They would punch you in the nose if you called them very cultured.

But in the main, Tony accurately conveys my feelings about Andy Warhol, who so loved Pittsburgh he came back only when he was dead.

Don't get me started about Fallingwater and Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect so brilliant he built a house with flat roofs in an area that has heavy snowfall. I love to take friends there, too.


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