Brilliant, idiosyncratic, and divisive art critic and cultural commentator Dave Hickey assesses the art world’s shifts over the past 50 years, from corporatization to prettification, and lays out the difficulties faced by artists today.
“My feeling about the broader art market is, if it’s that easy that millions of people can understand it, I don’t want to do it. Do you understand? I do difficulty. I’m a snob, I’m an elitist. And that’s okay. I see the social consequences of art very clearly. I do not see the social practices—praxis—doing anything beyond just getting a lot of people in a room to drink bad wine out of plastic cups.”
David Hickey is a renowned writer and critic of arts and culture. Born in Forth Worth, Texas, he earned a B.F.A. from Texas Christian University (1961) and an M.A. from the University of Texas, Austin (1963). After being asked to write a catalogue essay by a friend he discovered a longstanding interest in writing art criticism and theory. He founded and directed the gallery A Clean Well-Lighted Place in Austin, later moving to New York to act as director of Reese Palley Gallery. After leaving the gallery world he worked as a private dealer in New York before taking a position as Executive Editor of Art in America. Hickey has written for numerous publications over the course of his career, including Rolling Stone, Art News, Artforum, Harper’s Magazine, and Vanity Fair, and he has acted as contributing editor for The Village Voice and arts editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His essays have been collected in The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993), Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997), and Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Taste (2013). He is currently working on another collection, Twenty-Five Women: Essays on Art. In 1999 he published a collection of short stories, Stardumb. Hickey has also worked as a Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and as Distinguished Professor of Criticism for the MFA Program in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of New Mexico. His awards include the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art for Architectural Criticism from the College Art Association (1993); the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2002); and the Peabody Award for Public Journalism (2006). Hickey is married to art historian, writer, and critic Libby Lumpkin.