Friday, August 19, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Dave Hickey, Art Critic.

I came across the name
Dave Hickey among commentary at a politically-slanted website recently. Hickey, I learned, is an art critic. I was impressed by the quote of his offered by a commenter, and later wondered if Mr Hickey might be a subject for Arty Farty Friday. It'd make a change from posting about actual painters, photographers, illustrators etc.

Material on the net concerning Mr Hickey, found via Google, was not hard to come by - in fact there's a almost too much of it. I got the impression, after dipping in here and there, that Dave Hickey loves to talk, loves to write, loves to be interviewed, enjoys name-dropping, is highly opinionated, loves to pontificate - but not in an unpleasant way. He seems to be an engaging writer, with many books to his name. He has that easy affectation in his style reminiscent of the writing often found on the back of LP album covers, way back when. I enjoy a little bit of this style - though a little does go a long way. Dave Hickey is really better than that though, it's just one facet of his style.

Anyway, having decided to feature him on Arty Farty Friday I hit a stumbling block. How to slant the post. There's so much material online, one could drown in it. Then I found that one of his books is tited "Stardumb" :

Art Under Covers
by Suzaan Boettger

Artspace Books has published the delicious Stardumb, with art by East Village artist John de Fazio and stories by Las Vegas-based art critic Dave Hickey. This modest, square volume comes with a hard paper cover like a children's book and weighs only ten ounces. The title makes a punning connection between astrology and art-world stardom; its 12 tales of the art city, set in Chelsea and Santa Monica, each putatively illustrate Zodiacal personality traits.

De Fazio's drawings, which have a bright collaged density that combines scientific illustration and psychedelic designs into faux occult imagery, are lite fun. Hickey's framing of art world types as astrological signs is obliquely interpretive but unnecessary -- his sharply observed stories stand on their own. His attitude toward avaricious artists, compromised collectors, eccentric critics, and yes, the rest of us in the art world just making it, is less fashionably ironic than lovingly wry. This is a treasure you'll hate to see end.

Well, well, well! I've ordered a used copy from E-bay. Sounds like a fun read. I shall report back, one day!

I don't intend to get into paraphrasing online material about Mr Hickey and his personality - instead here are just a couple of pieces to give any interested readers a taste of this guy. And a video (there are many more at YouTube)

Art critic Dave Hickey has never been shy about dissenting
Dave Hickey calls art and culture like he sees it, writing and stirring opinions well past 'retirement.'

By Deborah Vankin in the LA Times

Dave Hickey's Politics of Beauty
By Laurie Fendrich.

He has some hard things to say about Texas in this one!

ASTROLOGY (briefly) ~

Born on 5 December 1940 in Fort Worth, Texas. Chart is set for 12 noon.

With last week's re-airing of thoughts on Via Combusta still in mind I wondered straight away if Dave Hickey would have any personal planet(s) within the Burning Road - he certainly has credentials for it! Let's have a look at his 12 noon chart.

Yep! We find Venus and Mars conjoined, and in the first 15 degrees of Scorpio which make up part of Via Combusta.

A time of birth in the early hours, or at least well before noon would put natal Moon in Aquarius - that'd be a good fit for someone as opinionated as Mr Hickey!

Uranus, rebel planet is in opposition to his intense Scorpio Mercury, from Taurus. That probably supplies something of a balancing act in his nature: rebellious yet earthy practicality in the area of the arts (Taurus is Venus-ruled) balanced by frequent emotionally tinged outbursts in his communication with the public (writings and interviews).

Sun in jovial Sagittarius lightens, softens and makes more palatable any stubborn intensity about issues he holds dear.


mike said...

Never heard of this December 5, 1940, fellow, but I'm not an art-world groupie, so no surprise. I do appreciate his views of the art-world, his criticism of its partnership with capitalism [ ]. The world of professional critics is peculiar, as they ride on the backs of others' endeavors in the world of food, music, art, travel, fashion, literature, politics, and digest the whole into particles of quantified evaluations for those that fear the task and-or desire a qualified member of the collective to mash the potatoes for them.

Individuals have always been critical of others, but nowadays each and every individual has become a specialized critic, able to espouse one's (dis)pleasure at every turn. The power of the "Like" of Facebook, the instantaneous Twitter tweet or Instagram post, constantly empowering mundane lives toward the feeling of accountability through trivial assessment.

The "Stupid Money" video is too long, but I'll agree with Hickey's negative critique of TX without viewing...LOL. He's from TX's more liberal days and I'm sure he'd be even more disgruntled now.

Probably simply coincidental that his last name is Hickey and that the renowned astrologer, Isabel Hickey, shares that surname. Maybe he's related and had a dab of astrology in his genes. I can't wait for you to critique "Stardumb"...LOL.

You sized his astrology nicely, but I'd add that his Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Venus-ruled Taurus, opposed Venus-Mars conjunction in Mars-co-ruled Scorpio, might draw-out his acerbic, common sense appraisals. Pluto (the collective), co-ruler of Scorpio, is within T-square, too.

"A New York publisher told James Michener after reading his first unpublished manuscript, “You’re a good editor with a promising future in the business. Why would you want to throw it all away to try to be a writer? I read your book. Frankly, it’s not really that good.” Michener's manuscript, titled Tales of the South Pacific , was eventually sold, later won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted for stage and screen as South Pacific."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for alerting me (subliminally) to the fact that I'd forgotten to state his date and place of birth. LOL! I usually remember to do it, but do miss my full astrology software which used to include date and place of birth in the chart illustration. :-)

High horse critics have been known to get on my last nerve - if I were to read much more about Mr Hickey he could well be one of those! Art is personal to the painter and to each the viewer, taste is personal too, who's to say what's good or bad or indifferent? Hickey seems to be a decent writer though, that could compensate for some irritations, I guess.

It hadn't struck me that his surname is the same as a well known astrologer's - well-spotted! Probably a coincidence, as you said, but perhaps he was aware of the astrologer, or had been made aware of her by someone due to their common surname, and had thereafter consulted her books, then came up with the bright idea for "Stardumb". (Pure speculation).

Yes, I just skipped through that video - all on him at YouTube are too long, and as I wrote, there's just too much material online; maybe this is a reflection of his Sagittarius Sun - too much of everything, too many words, too many opinions. :-)

Anonymous said...

This guy strikes me as a typical Sag bloviator. Or as Mystic Medusa puts it so well:

'LO-SAGGO IS: FULL OF CRAP It would be so cool if Sagittarians came equipped with a mute button. They go on and on and on. Ideally, like the characters on television, they would not know that they had been muted. They carry with them an invisible soapbox on which they leap to deliver their interminable preachy raves. They can be so in love with their own righteousness that they don’t even realise they are pulverizing someone else’s psyche. Not deliberately, of course.Our Sagg is totally into freedom and self-expression for all life forms. Well-brought up Saggs can actually manage to shut up and not interrupt. But all of them secretly think that the boring interval when someone else is talking is a mere gap for them to catch a breath while their mind boggles at their own profundity.'

As to 'who's to say what's, good or bad or indifferent', I certainly am, and in this case, for example, I am not alone:

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ LOL! Sagittarius comes with its drawbacks, as do all of the other 11 signs. I think perhaps those Sagittarius Sun people with a helping of next-door Capricorn are often better at it (life and communication) - a brake is applied!

Well, yes, of course, we all have our own opinions as to what's good/bad/indifferent, but most of us tend not to lay our opinions down as law, as do the most arrogant critics in any field.

Twilight said...

FROM "JD" (by e-mail)

Don't know much about Dave Hickey but you may remember Robert Hughes and his BBC series called The Shock of the New. He and his series were very perceptive and knowledgeable about art. You can find all of the episodes somewhere on YouTube. I think it was in that series where he said to a 'collector' of Andy Warhol's "art" that Warhol was the stupidest person he had ever met!

You might like this from a new contributor to Sackerson's blog-

Twilight said...

JD ~ Thank you for your contribution.
I see you are quite the critic yourself. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, JD, I enjoyed such as I saw of Mr Hughes' TV series. I first ran across him when I read his bestseller, 'The Fatal Shore', preparatory to my first trip to Australia. An all-rounder.

Twilight, I did not mean to suggest that Sag is any worse (or better) than any other sign; MM's 'Haute/Lo' sign series covers the zodiac, and as a member of the statistically most disliked of the signs, I am aware of the danger of generalizations.

I disagree with both of Mr Hickey's quoted observations: I believe that given education, encouragement, and opportunity, all human beings are capable of creativity. (Also, I am fairly sure that our capacity for art and writing are not resident in the human reptilian brainstem.) As for good taste being 'the residue of someone else's privilege', I am extremely wary about the contemporary abandon with which 'the Other' is denied the reality of their own lived experience on account of being identified as 'privileged', unless the facts incontrovertibly demonstrate otherwise.

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ Oh yes...I did realise the quote from Mystic Medusa was one of 12. :-)

Me too - re the Hickey quotations! I believe lizard brains, if such exist, will be strictly set aside for the worst kind of politicians, demagogues and religious fundamentalists.

I didn't quite understand his quote about taste - wondered if he meant it as sarcasm.
Anyway, one person's "good" taste is, in another's equally valis opinion, "bad" taste. Defining either is a lost cause - except for someone like Dave Hickey who loves to spill out his words and opinions by the billion, and makes a good living from doing so. ;-)

I'm playing at critic now.

Anonymous said...

'I believe lizard brains, if such exist, will be strictly set aside for the worst kind of politicians, demagogues and religious fundamentalists.' LOL

Like this?!

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ one! :-D