Cartoon Burial


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duration: 13 min

Stations of the Cross, St Stephen Walbrook, London, 2017

Laura Moffatt, ‘Stations of the Cross and Resurrection’, Art & Christianity, No 90, Summer 2017
Muriel Zagha, ‘From Psycho to Transcendence’, Elephant, 2017
Stations of the Cross | Stations of the Resurrection, Stations 2017, catalogue, ISBN 978-1-5272-0874-2s 

from the series Stations of the Cross

© acknowledgements:
Come Down To Us (Burial) 
Raphael, Study for the Pala Baglione 
Google maps image of Jerusalem 


The Fourteenth Station:  Jesus is laid in the tomb

A Reading from John Richardson’s eulogy for Andy Warhol, given on the occasion of his memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, April 1, 1987

Besides celebrating Andy Warhol as the quintessential artist of his time and place – the artist who held the most revealing mirror up to his generation –  I’d like to recall a side of his character that he hid from all but his closest friends: his spiritual side. Those of you who knew him in circumstances that were the antithesis of spiritual may be surprised that such a side existed. But exist it did, and it’s the key to the artist’s psyche. Never forget that Andy was born into a fervently Catholic family and brought up in the fervently Catholic Ruska Dolina, the Ruthenian section of Pittsburgh. As a youth, he was withdrawn and reclusive, devout and celibate; and beneath the disingenuous public mask that is how he at the heart remained. Thanks largely to the example of his adored mother, Julia, Andy never lost the habit of going to mass more often than was obligatory. As fellow parishioners will remember, he made a point of dropping in on his local church, St. Vincent Ferrer, several days a week until shortly before he died. Although Andy was perceived – with some justice – as a passive observer who never imposed his beliefs on other people, he could on occasion be an effective proselytizer. To my certain knowledge, he was responsible for at least one conversion. He took considerable pride in financing a nephew’s studies for the priesthood. And as you have doubtless read on your mass cards, he regularly helped out at a shelter serving meals to the homeless and the hungry. Trust Andy to have kept these activities very, very dark. The knowledge of this secret piety inevitably changes our perception of an artist who fooled the world into believing that his only obsessions were money, fame, glamor, and that he was cool to the point of callousness. Never take Andy at face value. The callous observer was in fact a recording angel. And Andy’s detachment – the distance he established between the world and himself – was above all a matter of innocence and of art. Isn’t an artist usually obliged to step back from things? In his impregnable innocence and humility Andy always struck me as a yurodstvo – one of those saintly simpletons who haunt Russian fiction and Slavic villages, such as Mikova in Ruthenia, whence the Warhols stemmed. Hence his peculiar, passive power over people; his ability to remain uncorrupted, no matter what activities he chose to film, tape, or scrutinize. The saintly simpleton side likewise explains Andy’s ever-increasing obsession with folklore and mysticism. He became more and more like a medieval alchemist searching – not so much for the philosopher’s stone as for the elixir of youth. If in the sixties some of the hangers-on at The Factory were hell-bent on destroying themselves, Andy was not to blame. He did what he could to help, but nothing in the world was going to deter those lemmings from their fate []. In any case Andy was not cut out to be his brother’s keeper. That would hardly have been compatible with the existent detachment which was his special gift. However, Andy did feel compassion, and he did, in his Prince Myshkin way, save many of his entourage from burnout. Though ever in his thoughts, Andy’s religion didn’t surface in his work until two or three Christmases ago, when he embarked on his series of Last Suppers, many of them inspired by a cheap mock – up of Leonardo’s masterpiece he bought on Times Square. Andy’s use of a pop concept to energize sacred subjects constitutes a major breakthrough in religious art. He even managed to give a slogan like “Jesus Saves” an uncanny new urgency. And how awesomely prophetic is Andy’s painting – one of his very last – which announces: “Heaven and Hell are just one breath away!”