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“Faith, when embraced, anchors the creative …” Andy Warhol’s bio and Francis’ call

Andy Warhol by Jack Mitchell -cc

“Faith, when embraced, anchors the creative …”

When a line is true,  you recognize that truth immediately, and that line jumped out at me as I read this fascinating review of Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni’s new book After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land. The small taste offered in the review was enough to get me to order the thing, because I have always been fascinated with Andy Warhol’s work and the high-flying persona he put forward that belied the depth and constancy of his Catholic faith.

Many are surprised to learn that Warhol went to Mass every day, and that he volunteered at soup kitchens and food distribution places several times a year, but Fraser-Cavassoni relates that his Catholicism was the “open secret” that touched every part of his life:

“Almost everyone who remained relevant in Andy’s life was Catholic,” she explains … There’s a refrain in After Andy of Warhol saying, “I’ve got to keep the lights on,” a blue-collar sentiment that, in classic Warhol fashion, carries a more spiritual double-meaning. Warhol attended daily Mass, and served food to the homeless during holidays – actions that Fraser-Cavassoni says were signs “of his eternal gratitude.” She even notes “when he met Pope John Paul II in 1980, Andy was wearing a tie and a low-key version of his signature wig; both suggesting a sign of his respect.”

It seems to me a remarkable bit of great timing — I might call it Providential but people would complain — that the book comes to the fore at the same time Pope Francis is dedicating his prayer intentions for the month of August to artists — that their gifts will be used to communicate the beauty of creation and the joy that comes from the life of faith:

“The arts give expression to the beauty of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation,” the pope says in his monthly video. “When we admire a work of art or a marvel of nature, we discover how everything speaks to us of Him and of His love.”


Elizabeth Scalia is Editor-at-Large at Aleteia and the award-winning author of Strange Gods, Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life and Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick You. ​
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