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November 06, 2007

Comments

mcmc

Hickey is unbearable. Peter Wollen, in one of the essays in Paris/Manhattan, had some things to say about Hickey's touching faith in the free market (except when it elevates stuff he doesn't like), that were a great relief to my mind.

JL

I wouldn't go so far as "unbearable"--I've found some of the book clever at times, and had a couple of good laughs--but he does get me rolling my eyes way too much. It doesn't help that there's very little actual discussion of the visual arts in the book--lots on the art world and the art market, but most of the real criticism in the book is devoted to pop culture stuff, especially music. Which is fine as far as it goes--though even here Hickey isn't all that impressive, offering clichés about the Rolling Stones (Keith leads the band and Charlie follows him, dude!) and confirming that a strong taste for Chet Baker correlates well with a certain style of pretentiousness commonly masked as an unpretentious romanticism.

Thanks for mentioning the essay, I'll have to look it up--I'm not familiar with it, but it sounds interesting.

martin

hickey response to wollen, i think for a different article -

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n07/letters.html

Franklin

That was one hell of a rebuttal.

mcmc

I can't stand the way Hickey positions himself as the wild'n'free bohemian, defiant in the face of--uh oh!--Academics!!!1 It's ridiculous to attribute power to the academy in the art world, and it reminds me of right-wing whining about the liberal media.

JL

Thanks for the link, Martin. Not having read Wollen, I don't have much to say about Hickey's response to him other than I agree that painting him as the successor to Clement Greenberg, if that's indeed what Wollen did, seems off-base. The two don't seem to have much to do with one another, as far as I can tell.

Not sure what rebuttal you were referring to, Franklin. And mcmc, I totally agree--Hickey's pose is ridiculous. And what do you know, he put his finger on the problem himself, in his response to Wollen: I can't think of a better example of someone spending so much time and energy battling "figures whom we invest with imaginary power in order to make our attacking them seem more daring and courageous." It's tired.

Franklin

I meant Hickey's rebuttal to Wollen, sorry. Yes, the pose is ridiculous, but the guy knows how to counterattack. This reminds of something... Right. "Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure."

JL

It's well-done, I agree, and Wollen's own reply appears to backtrack a little (scroll down for it.) It's not clear to me without seeing the essay in the LRB that he was anything but a little unclear in discussing Hickey, but Wollen appears to have left an opening, and that's all it takes. Incidently the LRB essay does appear to be the same one mcmc mentioned as being in Paris/Manhattan, at least in an earlier form. You can see some of the relevant pages here. It looks to me like Wollen reworked the piece to remove Hickey's grounds for objecting while preserving the fundamental criticism: if Hickey thinks market outcomes are fundamentally healthy ones, why doesn't he approve of Koons and Kinkade? I'd guess that Hickey'd argue that Wollen misunderstands his point, but it's a valid question.

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