Now that Dave Hickey’s retired from being an art critic, he’s moved on to spewing nonsense on Facebook about diversity in the art world.
Here’s his FB post from today that’s getting more and more likes by the minute:
Let’s break down Hickey’s feel-good argument:
1) Good art appeals to the senses.
2) In good art, the appeal to the senses “outstrips” the work’s original intent, and that includes political or social motives.
3) What is actually political about art is how it can “bring different kinds of people together and redraw social demographics.”
4) Art is democracy in action!
What? The art world is highly undemocratic. In an art utopia, sure, we would have a more diverse crowd of artists, curators, and art-lovers—if aesthetics (or kinesthetics, in Hickey’s case) could redraw the lines of the art world. But the facts just don’t line up with that view: Only 9 percent of museum visitors in the United States come from any minority group, 74 percent of artists living in New York are white, and solo gallery shows still end up going to men. And there have been very real responses to these problems; the biggest story this year being, of course, the Yams Collective withdrawing from the Whitney Biennial because of the exhibition’s lack of diversity.
Perhaps there was a time when Warhol, Mapplethorpe, and Sherman’s “constituency,” as Hickey calls their fans (and maybe he’s alluding to Warhol’s Factory-goers), was full of the queer, indie, and feminist outsiders to the white male-dominated discourse. But now just looking at their current audience—especially the billionaire collectors—it seems their works now read as a softer version of the originals, just a general display of liberal values rather than anything truly avant-garde.
In the end, they might be great investment pieces, but they haven’t brought the world together.