07w44:5 Dave Hickey

by timothy. 2 Comments

‘Now he teaches English,’ Sheila Heti writes in her intro to the interview with David Hickey, and this instantly reminds me of Richard Rorty, who I’ve been reading lately. (His Contingency book is so fantastic). Rorty, who was sometimes called the greatest American philosopher, ended his days teaching philosophy to literature students, having walked away from the academy’s philosophy departments. It seems that the literature department is the contemporary haven for independent thinkers. – Timothy

Interview with Dave Hickey | Sheila Heti
“SH: OK, so what are the supposed art magazines interested in hearing about, if not about art?

DH: They want touting. In twenty years we’ve gone from a totally academicized art world to a totally commercialized art world, and in neither case is criticism a function. We’re all supposed to be positive about art. Nobody plays defense! I mean, my job, to a certain extent, is to be in the net. My job is to mow stuff down.
SH: I suppose the schools have something to do with the change—the craziness that you have to get an MFA to be an artist.

DH: Thirty-five thousand MFAs a semester, 90 percent of whom never make another work of art.

SH: And do you think that that kind of system produces—

DH: Almost no one. Idiots with low-grade depression. When I opened my gallery in the late ’60s, Peter Plagens—who’s now the critic for Newsweek and still shows his paintings—was the only artist I represented who had been to graduate school. The MFA thing is an invention of the ’70s. Its raison d’être is evaporating.

SH: Which is?

DH: Training sissies for teaching jobs. Well, the official raison d’être was to create an intellectual and pedagogical justification for the most frivolous activity in Western culture, so you go back and read things from the past. It’s the traditional Renaissance desire that artists should be taken seriously, and that art not be a practical but a liberal art. But I tend to think it’s a practice, like law or like medicine.

SH: Right, and nobody wants to be a clown! No artists want to be clowns. That’s a shame.”

2 Responses to 07w44:5 Dave Hickey

  1. Timothy says:

    From the About page:

    Goodreads self-consciously adopts the Penguin style of preferring single quotes rather than double because I find it more aesthetically pleasing. Double quotes are used to deliminate teaser-quotations from the articles I’m linking to.

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