Saturday, February 26, 2011

From the long overdue (re)readings (VI)

Insofar as Stella's and Fried's historical reflections accurately mirror the character of contemporary art (and to a large extent they do), I may almost certainly expect, as I walk into a gallery, to confront either a bunch of autonomous icons pretending that I am not present, or a covey of 'difficult' autodidacts intruding into my space and making theoretical demands on me. After years of such confrontations, it has become increasingly clear to me that our twentieth-century characterizations of the work of art as this ravishing, autonomous entity that we spend our lives trying to understand, that makes demands on us while pretending we are not there, is simply a recasting of the work of art in the role of the remote and dysfunctional male parent in the tradition of the Biblical patriarch. Even art critics deserve some respite from this sort of abusive neglect.

—Dave Hickey, 'Prom Night in Flatland. On the gender of works of art,' in The Invisible Dragon. Four essays on beauty. Los Angeles: Art issues. Press, 1993. 39-50 (46-47).

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