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AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVE HICKEY

posted by Christopher Howard — Nov 26, 2014

The art critic Dave Hickey will deliver the keynote address during Convocation at the 2015 CAA Annual Conference in New York. Free and open to the public, Convocation takes place on Wednesday, February 11, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. The event will include the presentation of the annual Awards for Distinction and be followed by the conference’s Opening Reception, to be held at the Museum of Modern Art.

Hickey is the author of several books, including Prior Convictions: Stories from the Sixties (1989), The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993), Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997), and, most recently, Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Taste (2013). A new book, Pagan America, will appear in 2015, and a two-volume work called Feint of Heart: Essays on Individual Artists is in preparation.

Hickey has also contributed to numerous other books, exhibition catalogues, and anthologies, as well as to a wide range of magazines, journals, and newspapers. He has lectured at museums and universities around the world and taught art theory and creative writing for twenty years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Hickey was honored by CAA in 1994 with the Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism.

CAA communicated with Hickey via email this month. Here’s what he had to say.

Over the years I’ve consistently seen copies of your 1997 book Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy in the studios of MFA students in New York. Why do you think the impact of this anthology has lasted so long?

I have a steady market of artists ages twenty to thirty. By the time they’re thirty and have tenure and benefits, they aren’t my fans anymore. About Air Guitar, I think it’s a willfully forgiving book that is kinda the Catcher in the Rye for young artists. Not a high recommendation.

At the CAA conference, you’ll have an audience that’s maybe a third artists, a third historians, with a few curators, critics, and art lovers thrown in for good measure. How do you plan to address this diverse crowd?

Unless this crowd has been radically balkanized in the last few years, I think we all have something in common. I could be very wrong.

What have you recently seen in contemporary art that excites or annoys you?

I’ve been a lot of things, but I can’t be a race-track tout.

CAA’s oldest member, the architectural historian James S. Ackerman, retired in 1990 but still conducts research and writes books. At age 94, he even has a website that receives regular updates on his activities. Do people in the visual artists—artists, scholars, critics, and curators—really ever retire?

If you write about art as long as I have, art becomes your language. My art language is being phased out by universities, but I will keep using it while I’m alive. I intend to win the long run.

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