Dave Hickey Is Retiring (Sort Of)

A year ago, on the eve of his retrospective at the Guggenheim, artist Maurizio Cattelan announced his retirement. Recently, another esteemed figure, the cultural critic, curator, professor and one-time art dealer Dave Hickey, called to let The Observer know that he, too, is taking a step back. Mr. Hickey, winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and author of numerous catalogue essays, became well known for his 1993 book The Invisible Dragon (in which he, controversially at the time, championed beauty) and 1997′s Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy, a collection of his writings on a wide range of topics published in the form of his “Simple Hearts” column in the now-defunct magazine Art Issues. In 2001, he curated the biennial exhibition Site Santa Fe. Most recently a professor of criticism in the department of art and art history at the University of New Mexico, he left teaching last year. In the following interview, conducted by phone from Santa Fe, and via e-mail, he explains his reasons for (partly) retiring, why he’s against group shows, contracts and other forms of art-world bureaucracy, why art critics have no power, why art dealing is “the last really honest thing [he's] ever done… the last thing…where you were punished for your mistakes,” why artists should join gangs, and what he’ll be up to next.
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