Newsweek calls him “exhilarating and deeply engaging.” Time Out New York calls him “smart, provocative, and a great writer.” Critic Peter Schjeldahl, meanwhile, simply calls him “My hero.” There’s no one in the art world quite like Dave Hickey—and a new book of his writing is an event.
25 Women will not disappoint. The book collects Hickey’s best and most important writing about female artists from the past twenty years. But this is far more than a compilation: Hickey has revised each essay, bringing them up to date and drawing out common themes. Written in Hickey’s trademark style—accessible, witty, and powerfully illuminating—25 Women analyzes the work of Joan Mitchell, Bridget Riley, Fiona Rae, Lynda Benglis, Karen Carson, and many others. Hickey discusses their work as work, bringing politics and gender into the discussion only where it seems warranted by the art itself. The resulting book is not only a deep engagement with some of the most influential and innovative contemporary artists, but also a reflection on the life and role of the critic: the decisions, judgments, politics, and ethics that critics negotiate throughout their careers in the art world.
Always engaging, often controversial, and never dull, Dave Hickey is a writer who gets people excited—and talking—about art. 25 Women will thrill his many fans, and make him plenty of new ones.
Throughout these trenchant essays on female artists, Hickey (Air Guitar) is characteristically incisive, challenging, and weird; he's just as likely to cite a Rolling Stones concert or Lou Reed lyric as the theory of Gilles Deleuze or Jacques Derrida. Hickey turns his incisive lens to the careers of various female visual and performing artists in this bustling essay collection. The range of names represented here is considerable (including some the reader may never have heard of, such as painters Sharon Ellis and Michelle Fierro), and regardless of reputation, Hickey always deploys the same lively rigor. He describes the late Elizabeth Murray as "the absolute mistress of high physical comedy... like Keith Haring with a domestic life and a Ph.D." On Bridget Riley, he explains how her "fatally misconstrued" works of op art (using optical illusions) "compromise our current penchant for reading art rather than experiencing it." There are other taut, complex essays on Vija Celmins, Roni Horn, Anne Hamilton, and Joan Mitchell ("In the last ten years, nothing has gotten better but mobile phones and Joan Mitchell's paintings"). The introduction, titled "A Ladies' Man", in which Hickey explains how "most of my favorite people are women," emerges as a surprisingly powerful piece of memoir.