like, Cloning Pigs for Parts and we're from San Bernardino . . ."
SC: You should go into business.
DH: Yeah, I make up pretty good band names. My other best one was 'Clown Meat,' which I like a whole lot.
SC You being an art critic, as well as a gallery owner in the past, I'm curious to hear what in your mind is the relationship between artists, critics, gallerists . . . what's going on between all these people?
DH: Well. The art world is very easy. When I was a dealer I used to say, "The artist makes the work, I sell the work, the artist's girlfriend or boyfriend tries to get me to give them the money." That's all it is, it's as simple as that. It's all about the public adjudication of value. I prefer today, since I don't really do reviews anymore, to write for commercial galleries.
SC: You mean catalogues?
DH: Yeah. If you write for magazines there is all that educational bullshit you have to put in.
SC: You mean like general art history stuff?
DH: All these magazines are written for sophomores in Southern Illinois University. So you have to say things like "Andy Warhol, the Pop artist." You have to tell everybody who John Wesly is. And I find that to be kind of boring. I just did a catalogue on Picabia for Michael Werner Gallery.
SC: That was a great show.
DH: It was a great show, I love Picabia. And it was really fun; I could just sit down and write about Picabia, and presume that everybody could read and write, and knew who Picabia was, and who Alfred Barr was. Also you're working with professional editors. Art magazines don't have professional editors. Their idea of good writing is Derrida or something. And also it pays better, and it can have some impact on the life of the work. Nothing you write in a magazine, except for maybe a review, has much impact.
SC: Doesn't it have a direct connection to the market value of the work?
DH: Oh certainly, but the market value also has direct connection to the general esteem in which the work is held. Picabia has for many years been a complete cult artist. I was into Picabia, in the mid '70s I bought one for one thousand dollars and sold it for four. He has been an artist held in high esteem by a lot of people for a long time, but without essential market value, and there are people with great market value, Cecily whatever . . .
SC: Brown?
DH: Yeah, Brown, I don't know many artists who hold her in high esteem. She has skill, she may get better. Obviously, there is no direct correspondence between market value and sophisticated esteem. But at the same time you can't separate these things. Put it like this, if you've been an art critic as long as I have, it is very important to be what they call "bankable." Which means if you look at all the people you have written about, it is important that their prices go up. In other words, you're not going to spend all your time writing about some bumpkin who carves tree stumps in Seattle. It doesn't matter, the word's not out there, people are not talking about it, its just vanity writing. I do that sometimes, but not very much. Nor is there much good to be gained from doing theoretical analysis. Theory is easy, practice is hard. I used to say theory is playing poker with no spots on the cards. I like to critique the hard world, so the hard world becomes a critique of what you write. And you want to have influence; you want to make people take what you value seriously, and you want people to question what you don't take seriously.
I don't write negative criticism very much. I would never write a negative review of a young artist. There are certain sort of hyper-inflated reputations, which I will occasionally take a shot at. I took a shot at Clemente's Neo-Expressionist paintings, and I love some of his work. I took a shot at Christopher Wool as well, who seems to me an incredibly pretentious artist. But I don't usually do that—it's easy to critique and it's hard to praise—so I would rather tell you why I think something is good. There is really no such thing as an art critic having power; works of art have power, and you have to kind of be right and persuasive at the same time. It helps to understand commerce for what it is, which is a way to make a living doing what you like to do. I don't have a fancy family, I didn't go to Harvard, I don't have a trust fund, I never got a fucking grant and I am not likely to, because I don't have a grant-friendly sensibility. If it weren't for the magazine world, I would probably be teaching Melville in some junior college, and drinking. I would be dead, or still out with some sleazy garage band playing "Free Bird," and "Rock N Roll Hoochy Coo," that's not something you look forward to.
SC: Yeah, that's not a pretty thing. I remember reading you dropped out of grad school—
DH: Yeah, I hated it.
SC: What was wrong?
DH: Well, I always thought it was about intellectual adventure, and it was really about a lot of people who