We Don’t Play Guitars

11 years, 6 months ago 1
Posted in: studio notes

I saw Dave Hickey speak at the Nasher Museum last Thursday, giving a talk on the current Warhol Polaroid exhibit.  While I’m not interested in responding to his nostalgic ramblings of the New York drug underground in the 70’s (I think Anthony Bourdain’s snark is far more interesting, and without the folksy drawl and underpinnings of homophobia and misogyny) – I think there needs to be some sort of counter to Hickey’s claim that Warhol was apolitical and had no inner conflict, rather existing entirely as a construction of his own personality.  During the talk, Hickey sort of made the claim that Warhol’s images were of this utopian America in which everyone shared a collective joy and no conflict existed.  When someone asked about Warhol’s darker images (esp. the death screenprints,) Hickey sidestepped the question, saying that Warhol just wanted to make the world safe for effeminate homosexuals and was the reason why Stonewall happened (yeah, I don’t know either….)
My suspicion is that Hickey doesn’t have a critical understanding of queer theory.  Robert Summer’s “De-Queering” Warhol — Again?, talks about how queer identity is overlooked, and sometimes (esp. in Warhol’s case) is erased, when dealing with artists and their works.  I think Summers begins to bring up an interesting point when he says that Warhol is used to defend heteronormativity, but Warhol’s images of young men and boys are somehow ignored.   all this leads me to wonder if anyone is looking at Warhol from a queer theory perspective.

I don’t know if I’m that interested personally in re-examining Warhol’s images through the theoretical queer perspective – although I think it’s definitely necessary.  What I’m more interested in is thinking about ways to oppose heteronormative tactics of erasing queerness in art histories.  In Hickey’s case, I think there’s only one respone:

One Response

  1. robin says:

    It seems to me that one way to "save" Warhol for modernist masculinism is to say that everything "effete" about him is surface and construct…maybe there's some of this going on…