Dave Hickey





Dave Hickey

Author profile


born
in The United States
January 01, 1939

gender
male

genre


About this author

David Hickey (born circa 1939) is an American art and cultural critic. He has written for many American publications including Rolling Stone, Art News, Art in America, Artforum, Harper's Magazine, and Vanity Fair. He is currently Professor of English at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Distinguished Professor of Criticism for the MFA Program in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of New Mexico.

Known for his arguments against academicism and in favor of the effects of rough-and-tumble free markets on art, his critical essays have been published in two volumes: The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993) and Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997). In 2009, Hickey published a revised and updated versi...more


Average rating: 4.18 · 1,830 ratings · 173 reviews · 72 distinct works · Similar authors
Air Guitar
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 1,140 ratings — published 1997 — 3 editions
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The Invisible Dragon: Four ...
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 328 ratings — published 1993 — 6 editions
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Pirates and Farmers: Essays...
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 32 ratings — published 2013
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Prior Convictions: Stories ...
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 13 ratings — published 1989
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Between Artists: Twelve Con...
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 1971
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The World of Jeffrey Vallan...
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 1994
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Liberace: A Rhinestone As B...
3.2 of 5 stars 3.20 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2005
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Dreamland
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3.2 of 5 stars 3.20 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2000
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Las Vegas Diaspora: The Eme...
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2007
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Gary Hume: Flashback
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2.33 of 5 stars 2.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2012
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“...The efficacy of psychedelics with regard to art has to do with their ability to render language weightless, as fluid and ephemeral as those famous "bubble letters" of the sixties. Psychedelics, I think, disconnect both the signifier and the signified from their purported referents in the phenomenal world - simultaneously bestowing upon us a visceral insight into the cultural mechanics of language, and a terrifying inference of the tumultuous nature that swirls beyond it. In my own experience, it always seemed as if language were a tablecloth positioned neatly upon the table until some celestial busboy suddenly shook it out, fluttering and floating it, and letting it fall back upon the world in not quite the same position as before - thereby giving me a vertiginous glimpse into the abyss that divides the world from our knowing of it. And it is into this abyss that the horror vacui of psychedelic art deploys itself like an incandescent bridge. Because it is one thing to believe, on theoretical evidence, that we live in a prison-house of language. It is quite another to know it, to actually peek into the slippery emptiness as the Bastille explodes around you. Yet psychedelic art takes this apparent occasion for despair and celebrates our escape from linguistic control by flowing out, filling that rippling void with meaningful light, laughter, and a gorgeous profusion.”
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar

“Bad taste is real taste, of course, and good taste is the residue of someone else's privilege.”
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar

“Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us--simpatico dudes that we are--while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time--while the other dudes hold onto the wire. Which is not to say that no one has tried to dispense with wires. Many have, and sometimes it works--but it doesn't feel like jazz when it does. The music simply drifts away into the stratosphere of formal dialectic, beyond our social concerns.

Rock-and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us--as damaged and anti-social as we are--might possibly get it to-fucking-gether, man, and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we can't. The song's too simple, and we're too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends, and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whetehr we want it to or not. Just because we're breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.

And you can thank the wanking eighties, if you wish, and digital sequencers, too, for proving to everyone that technologically "perfect" rock--like "free" jazz--sucks rockets. Because order sucks. I mean, look at the Stones. Keith Richards is always on top of the beat, and Bill Wyman, until he quit, was always behind it, because Richards is leading the band and Charlie Watts is listening to him and Wyman is listening to Watts. So the beat is sliding on those tiny neural lapses, not so you can tell, of course, but so you can feel it in your stomach. And the intonation is wavering, too, with the pulse in the finger on the amplified string. This is the delicacy of rock-and-roll, the bodily rhetoric of tiny increments, necessary imperfections, and contingent community. And it has its virtues, because jazz only works if we're trying to be free and are, in fact, together. Rock-and-roll works because we're all a bunch of flakes. That's something you can depend on, and a good thing too, because in the twentieth century, that's all there is: jazz and rock-and-roll. The rest is term papers and advertising.”
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar



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