RANYA ASMAR | DATE 8/14/2012
Since it was first published by Art Issues Press in 1997, Dave Hickey's Air Guitar has been widely considered one of the twentieth century's most invigorating and paradigm-shifting books of contemporary criticism. (In June 2009, when the book was well on its way to its eighth printing, Newsweek voted it one of the top 50 books that "open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways," and described the book as "a seamless blend of criticism, personal history, and a deep appreciation for the sheer nuttiness of American life.") At long last, this pioneering essay collection is now available as an eBook edition for iPad, Kindle, Nook and other devices. To see more eBooks, please continue to ARTBOOK | DIGITAL. Or scroll down for an excerpt from the chapter, "The Birth of the Big, Beautiful Art Market."
Dave Hickey, 2008, courtesy of C.Taylor Photography.
THE BIRTH OF THE BIG, BEAUTIFUL ART MARKET
In the beginning was the Car, and the Car was with Art, and the Car was Art
. Thus it was in the American boondocks during the nineteen fifties and sixties. Especially for me. For me, cars were not just art, they were everything. None of the schools I attended (as we gypsied around the American West) were ever that great, nor ever quite real to me. So such secondary education as I received, I received in the physical culture of cars. Wherever I found myself, kids bought them, talked them, drew them, and dreamed them—hopped them up and dropped them down—cruised them on the drag and dragged them on the highway, and I did, too. Thus, of necessity, I learned car math and car engineering, car poli-sci and car economics, car anthropology and car beaux-arts.
Even my first glimmerings of higher theory arose out of that culture: the rhetoric of image and icon, the dynamics of embodied desire, the algorithms of style change, and the ideological force of disposable income. All these came to me couched in the lingua franca of cars, arose out of our perpetual exegesis of its nuanced context and iconography. And it was worth the trouble, because all of us who partook of this discourse, as artists, critics, collectors, mechanics, and citizens, understood its politico-aesthetic implications, understood that we were voting with cars—for a fresh idea of democracy, a new canon of beauty, and a redeemed ideology of motion. We also understood that we were dissenting
when we customized them and hopped them up—demonstrating against the standards of the republic and advocating our own refined vision of power and loveliness...
—Dave Hickey, excerpted from Air Guitar