Though he was a churchgoing Roman Catholic, [Andy Warhol] lived without God, without ideals or aspirations. Abstractions meant nothing to him. Existence was the here and now. Warhol's world was a landscape out of Samuel Beckett, cold and desolate. Art for him wasn't a transformative endeavor but merely ''something to do,'' a way to pass time. ''Why do people buy your art?'' he was asked. ''I don't know,'' he answered. His passivity mystified people. He in turn was mystified by them. How could they maintain their illusions, go on telling lies to themselves to give meaning to their lives? He was as tough-minded as the bleakest existentialist; [Arthur] Danto calls him the ''closest to a philosophical genius of any 20th-century artist.'' Warhol explained his outlook this way: ''I always had this philosophy of: 'It really doesn't matter.' '' And in an interview with Roman Polanski, he elaborated: ''People make such a big thing out of living and it really isn't that important. . . . You go to bed at night and you fall asleep and it's all over. Then you wake up the next day and you have to start all over again.'' 

-- Barry Gewen, New York Times Book Review