The first book on the critic and essayist Dave Hickey, Far from Respectable examines the life and work of this controversial figure, whose writing changed the discourse around art and popular culture.
Regarded as both a legend and a villain, the critic Dave Hickey has inspired generations of artists, art critics, musicians, and writers. His 1993 book The Invisible Dragon became a cult hit for its potent and provocative critique of the art establishment and its call to reconsider the role of beauty in art. His next book, 1997’s Air Guitar, introduced a new kind of cultural criticism—simultaneously insightful, complicated, vulnerable, and down-to-earth—that propelled Hickey to fame as an iconoclastic thinker, loved and loathed in equal measure, whose influence extended beyond the art world.
Far from Respectable is a focused, evocative exploration of Hickey’s work, his impact on the field of art criticism, and the man himself, from his Huck Finn childhood to his drug-fueled periods as both a New York gallerist and Nashville songwriter to, finally, his anointment as a tenured professor and MacArthur Fellow. Drawing on in-person interviews with Hickey, his friends and family, and art world comrades and critics, Daniel Oppenheimer examines the controversial writer’s distinctive takes on a broad range of subjects, including Norman Rockwell, Robert Mapplethorpe, academia, Las Vegas, basketball, country music, and considers how Hickey and his vision of an “ethical, cosmopolitan paganism” built around a generous definition of art is more urgently needed than ever before.