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
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
. . .
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
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 thatit's easy to
critique and it's hard to praiseso 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