David Hickey’s Air Guitar

Do you like to read?  Me, I’ve always been a voracious reader.  Like other autodidacts, I let my interests take me where it will–I read what I damn well please.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of art theory  (Foucault, Panofsky, Derrida, Johnson) and criticism, which brings me to Hickey.  I recently finished two of his books–“Air Guitar,” and “The Invisible Dragon”–on my kindle.

Hickey’s prose crackles and shines, at least when he isn’t writing about art.  He can stand his interest in Mapplethorpe and Norman Rockwell side-by-side and have you nodding your head in admiring approval–no mean feat.  The Hunter Thompson-esque essays in Air Guitar tumble and slide through his life as a journalists, art lover, and art critic.  In one essay, Air Guitar, he discusses why he isn’t a writer with a capital ‘W’ and is especially memorable.  His love for art shines throughout the collection and will resonant with fellow art lovers.

Unfortunately, the art related essays in The Invisible Dragon are not nearly as interesting.  In that book, Hickey makes the prediction that beauty will be important in future art.  The fact that this prediction has made Hickey notorious in some circles might astonish some.  This book is written for a narrow audience of his fellow travelers in a style that is part Paglia-esque provocation and part apology.  His claim that the art world is dead is a mere commonplace at this point and the entire effort appears exhausted.

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