cover of book

Perfect Wave: More Essays on Art and Democracy
by Dave Hickey
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-0-226-33313-7 | Paper: 978-0-226-33314-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-51515-1
Library of Congress Classification N7475.H535 2017

 A collection of essays by American art critic Dave Hickey, nicknamed “The Bad Boy of Art Criticism.”
When Dave Hickey was twelve, he rode the surfer’s dream: the perfect wave. And, like so many things in life we long for, it didn’t quite turn out—he shot the pier and dashed himself against the rocks of Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, which nearly killed him.
Hickey went on to develop a career as one of America’s foremost critical iconoclasts, a trusted no-nonsense voice commenting on the worlds of art and culture. Perfect Wave brings together essays on a wide range of subjects from throughout Hickey’s career, displaying his breadth of interest and powerful insight into what makes art work, or not, and why we care. With Hickey as our guide, we travel to Disneyland and Vegas, London and Venice. We discover the genius of Karen Carpenter and Waylon Jennings, learn why Robert Mitchum matters more than Jimmy Stewart, and see how the stillness of Antonioni speaks to us today. Never slow to judge—or to surprise us in doing so—Hickey relates his wincing disappointment in the later career of his early hero Susan Sontag and shows us the appeal to our commonality that we’ve been missing in Norman Rockwell.
Bookended by previously unpublished personal essays that offer a new glimpse into Hickey’s own life—including the aforementioned conclusion to his surfing career—Perfect Wave is a welcome addition to the Hickey canon.

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