The critic Dave Hickey has announced his sort-of retirement:
I'm retiring because my time is up. Last summer I wrote catalogue pieces on Ken Price and John Chamberlain. They were both my friends and my essays turned out to be inadvertent obituaries. I take this as a sign. Also, most writing about art these days is so bad that my secular readership has disappeared. Nobody but professionals and grad students even look at it. So no more e-mails from civilians, no more notes from John Updike or Steve Martin, no more crazy hipsters from Berkeley knocking on my door. Also, the art world has turned nasty for some reason and my gentility has come out of the closet. I cry when people scream at me, unless we’re just haggling about prices.*
Dave, if you don't know him, is a maddening but highly readable and also very entertaining art critic. The theme of his books, in the words of Laurie Fendrich, is that the art world, by abandoning beauty, has "descended into the hell of boredom."He once described the art world as "this massive civil service of PhDs and MFAs administering a monolithic system of interlocking patronage (which in its constituents resembles nothing so much as France in the early nineteenth century). During which powerful corporate, governmental, and academic constituencies vied ruthlessly for power and tax-free dollars, each with its own self-perpetuating agenda and none with any vested interest in the subversive potential of visual pleasure."
His new book is just out.
Dave Hickey. Photo by Jeff Scheid.
Hickey has gained more attention lately than he's gotten in years by simply announcing his departure, leading many to speculate that it's a Duchampian strategic move. In his case, of course, what matters is not his intentions but our attention. So bravo to retirement.
(Thanks to Walt)
*The quote is from an interview by James Wolcott at Vanity Fair called "Surfing Into the Sunset."
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Featured Comments from:
calvin amari: "I haven't seen the new book yet as it is still hard to come by. His book Air Guitar, however, displays an iconoclastic and hyperactive brilliance—hardly the typical output of an 'art critic.' The Invisible Dragon, Hickey's book about beauty, is first rate but somewhat less of a wild ride due to its pointed focus."
Will Frostmill: "Hmm. Does he have a blog? I wonder if his 'secular readership' has disappeared because they are reading other people's writing on the internet."