"The Invisible Dragon" made a lot of noise for a little book When it was originally published in 1993 it was championed by artists for its forceful call for a reconsideration of beauty--and savaged by more theoretically oriented critics who dismissed the very concept of beauty as naive, igniting a debate that has shown no sign of flagging. With ...
"The Invisible Dragon" made a lot of noise for a little book When it was originally published in 1993 it was championed by artists for its forceful call for a reconsideration of beauty--and savaged by more theoretically oriented critics who dismissed the very concept of beauty as naive, igniting a debate that has shown no sign of flagging. With this revised and expanded edition, Hickey is back to fan the flames. More manifesto than polite discussion, more call to action than criticism, "The Invisible Dragon" aims squarely at the hyper-institutionalism that, in Hickey's view, denies the real pleasures that draw us to art in the first place. Deploying the artworks of Warhol, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Mapplethorpe and the writings of Ruskin, Shakespeare, Deleuze, and Foucault, Hickey takes on museum culture, arid academicism, sclerotic politics, and more--all in the service of making readers rethink the nature of art. A new introduction provides a context for earlier essays--what Hickey calls his "intellectual temper tantrums." A new essay, "American Beauty," concludes the volume with a historical argument that is a rousing paean to the inherently democratic nature of attention to beauty. Written with a verve that is all too rare in serious criticism, this expanded and refurbished edition of "The Invisible Dragon" will be sure to captivate a new generation of readers, provoking the passionate reactions that are the hallmark of great criticism.
Publishers Weekly, 1994-06-27 Modern art, say those in the know, isn't so much about beauty as it is about instruction. Art appreciation is considered, in our culture, a consequence of sophistication, taste and learning--the property of the learned elite, the rich and famous. Even for sympathetic contemporary art lovers, there is something terribly precious about the intense politicization that animates much contemporary artistic practice. But can beauty replace pedagogy in art? In essays on gender and beauty, Robert Mapplethorpe, art institutions and beauty's ``vernacular,'' art critic and teacher Hickey prompts a consideration of aspects of the rhetoric of beauty in Western art. ``The vernacular of beauty, in its democratic appeal, remains a potent instrument for change in this civilization,'' Hickey asserts. But he goes on to say that what stands in the way of change are the museums, universities, foundations and the like ``mandated to kidnap an entire province of ongoing artistic endeavor from its purportedly dysfunctional parent culture,'' to dissect and neutralize the power of images. One could argue with Hickey that new mass art audiences' responses to beauty are helping change both art's institutional framework and its position in our culture. But Hickey is on to something: beauty's reemergence as a coveted value challenges the art professional's role as art custodian. And from the standpoint of those who value democratic culture, this is all to the good. Illustrated. (Aug.)
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