'BUT is it art?'' bleated Charles Purcell in cliched reference to the work of conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp. Actually, he was less open-minded than that, proclaiming, through the froth that was doubtless gathering at the corners of his mouth, it was not art.
That wasn't in 1917 when Duchamp's famous ''found object'' work Fountain was first exhibited. No. Disturbingly, Purcell's comments were made just days ago in his article ''Hey Banksy, Graffiti is Vandalism not Art'', on The Age website.
His point, essentially, was that art that ''no longer resembled the subject it was supposed to depict'' - lovely still-life paintings of fruit and English lords with their hunting dogs - has led to the decay of modern culture. Or, as many of us have read it: ''Art that Purcell Doesn't Like''. Some of it in public places. The horror!
Purcell's hook for his anti-modern art rant is the rumoured visit to Australia by acclaimed British stencil artist Banksy, whose film Exit Through the Gift Shop opens here next month.
Banksy, he declared, is not an artist, but a vandal. For ''the average person'', Purcell says, Banksy's art offers ''nothing arty or glamorous''.
I lay no claim to being an expert myself, but ''arty'' and ''glamorous'' are words rarely used by those who genuinely enjoy art. But, then, anybody who read Purcell's piece would have gleaned that his idea of art is literal and unchallenging and hanging in an art gallery. Or Ikea.
Banksy's stencils, because they use public spaces, are, Purcell argues, no better than the giant phalluses or ''tags'' scrawled by people we can safely assume he quaintly refers to as ''delinquents''.
He also claims Banksy's work was legitimised by ''art world luvvies'' and ''vapid celebrities'' whose purchases have increased the prices of his works.
A very simplistic view indeed, Mr Purcell. Banksy had an appreciative audience long before Brad Pitt ''discovered'' him - ''average people'' who enjoyed his works on the streets of Bristol and London for years before his works were sold by posh auction houses.
You call it vandalism, but I - like many others - found his street works to be sharp, colourful diversions in the otherwise drab streetscapes of London, where I lived for several years.
I first noticed his To Advertise Here Call 1800 Banksy piece on a railway bridge in Brick Lane, then the famous chimp wearing a sandwich board bearing different slogans, which appeared on the occasional tube train and various walls around Ladbroke Grove, then his stencil of Queen Victoria in an unmentionable pose under Blackfriars Bridge, chipped away, so rumour had it at the time, by outraged royalists.
By 2002, Banksy's street art had amassed a following, kicked along, of course, by his anonymity, even if he kept it up, as Purcell spits ''to add mystique to his legend''.
Colleagues told me about a ''secret'' Banksy exhibition. I missed that, but I was given his manager's details, who told me Banksy had started spraying stencils on canvases, along with the existing artworks he had been famously modifying.
I didn't meet Banksy - or maybe I did; perhaps his manager was actually he? - but I bought one of the mysterious cult figure's artworks so I could enjoy the work I'd seen around London on my wall.
Not because his art had been endorsed by celebrities (his manager told me Banksy was considering an offer to create the now-famous Blur album cover for Think Tank, at which I scoffed), or validated by having been in an art gallery, which is presumably what, in Purcell's mind, makes art art.
I don't particularly like giant phalluses scrawled on bus stops, but I'd rather a street full of stencils and graffiti than one lined with billboards of inane advertising.
Where you find Banksy's work an offence to the eye, Mr Purcell, my own retinas are affected by advertisements for products promoted by emaciated models.
Whether you love his work or not - and I'm well aware of the criticism of his work as lightweight socio-political bumpf - it's hard to deny that Banksy is an artist of sorts. He may well be a prankster with a spray can merely exploring the concept of art as a commodity, but he's still an artist, not a vandal.