Andy Warhol
photo Miltzen

Thank You Andy Warhol

by Lisa Janssen

Dear Andy,

I wanted to write you and let you know the many ways you have impacted my life. It started with “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and Back Again.” There were some aphorisms in that book that I live by to this day, at least I try. My favorite is, “So what.”

“Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, So what. That’s one of my favorite things to say. So what.”

That kept me out of therapy for a few years.

I also liked “I’m always meeting strong women looking for weak men to dominate them.” Besides being personally resonant, that to me showed that you could really see into people.

Making this into a mystery and charisma gave you the space to stare into people’s souls.

The meek way you had of saying “Gee” and “That’s Great,” took the air out of the pretentious art world. Undiluted positivity can really catch a blowhard off guard.

I used to really like to use this trick to deflate my fellow art students, to say how much I loved to watch TV and other mundane things that they thoroughly disapproved of, as “artists.”

People say that your greatest creation was yourself. I don’t agree. What I admired was your clear, cold understanding of human nature. Looking deep into your beauties and stars and drag queens, like no one probably ever did before. That’s what made them love you and made them fight for your love. And they really were special, just like you saw them.

Andy Warhol by Jack Mitchell.

I had lunch with Mary* today. She said, with well-deserved authority, that it was all an act. The introversion and shyness. I concurred, but thought this was because you were “different,” in kind of a “revenge of the nerds” way. Slight, bald, bad skin — that you used this as a way to seem non-threatening, then sneak in and manipulate them into admiring you and giving you money.

But Mary said, that the real thing was your rage. She said the reason you always posed with middle finger front and center is because you hated “them.”  And them was the society that was anti-gay, that made it against the law, against the law, to be yourself as a human.

Andy Warhol Self-Portrait 1966

I was ashamed that I had never thought of that before. I’ve read every book about you and by you and have a picture of you in my locker. I loved you like Brigid Berlin surely loved you. But missed this fundamental thing.

Mostly Andy, I love your art. I don’t understand how anyone can say your paintings aren’t “art.” They are really beautiful, and emotional, and they stare into your soul. I hope you are living in the opulent Catholic heaven you dreamed of.

Love, Lisa


*Mary Woronov, whip dancer, superstar, and close friend of Andy’s

Allie Caulfield photo