Dave Hickey


    ON A RAINY NOVEMBER evening in 1964, in a bookstore across the street from the University of Texas in Austin, I came upon five thin white books stacked on a waist-high breakfront shelf. On the cover of the top book, three lines of bold, red serif type announced:


    I picked one up and opened it. The title page read “TWENTYSIX/GASOLINE/STATIONS/EDWARD RUSCHA/1962,” and I immediately thought, “Sixty two! I’m two years late!”—because the book was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Well, maybe not altogether cooler than the Warhols I’d seen that summer, but cooler in a plainer,

  • Dave Hickey


    In an art world full of “strong artists” getting fat at the trough of weakness and abjection, KAREN CARSON is the healthy exception: a drama queen who kicks butt. Think Bonnie Raitt meets Dorothy Parker, Fabergé graffiti, Dostoyevsky writes Jane Austen—that general area. A witty, worldly feminist with her heart on her sleeve and the world in her eye, Carson operates with the anxiety meter posting in the red. From the wry, striptease minimalism of her early zipper pieces, through the gaudy smoke-and-mirrors of her abstract “hot flashes,” to the flashy graphics of her recent Vegas


    I HAVE BEEN CLOSE pals with Dave Hickey, the Walter Pater of the Southwest, for only a few years. He used to scare me. I felt sullenly competitive with him. Then my character improved, I guess, to the point where I could accept his generosity. Dave makes of his gifts a gift to others. Now he is like the friend I was supposed to have in seventh grade and didn’t. His successes please me nearly as much as my own. (They’re less work, for one thing.) I like to think we constitute an aging youth gang of incorrigible esthetes: rugged individualist sniffers of the perfumed hanky, if you will. And if

  • Dave Hickey


    The best thing about “The World of JEFFREY VALLANCE,” at the Santa Monica Museum, is that it would exist, I suspect, even if art museums did not. It is a cabinet of curiosities, really, filled with trophies, relics, and texts documenting Vallance’s steerage-class adventures around the globe. As such, it is eminently available to any citizen with a modicum of curiosity. So any urban space would do—and another urban space might do better, in fact, since, in the midst of an elite culture dedicated to parsing the dissonance of disembodied significations, Vallance joyously pursues



    Make It New
    Bruce Nauman retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Bad news from the studio, but real news nevertheless. Twenty-five years of pieces, each of which seems to have arisen out of a condition of sudden panic—out of the terror of not knowing, of having forgotten, willfully, day after day, what art is and what an artist might do—of having forgotten, even, what an artist is. A fountain? A source of mystic truths? A cruel instructor? A tortured clown? We get one brutal, last-ditch guess after another, and the whole practice of “artmaking” is reinvented, again