Dave Hickey’s Top Ten

I have always been a writer but writing has always been too diaphanous for me somehow. No matter how fast you make it go, it still seems to dawdle. I can’t quit writing because it’s all I can do, so I write about art, which is instantaneous and a cure for writing, for the endless tedium of word, word, word, word—event, event, event, event. Thus, I am able, simultaneously, to repudiate my practice and reinforce my addiction to it. Also, I prefer objects to people and stories and pictures.

About the images on the following pages, you should keep this in mind. I have been doing this for thirty-five years. All the artists are my friends. Three of them are my ex-students. At one time or another, I have included all these artists in exhibitions or written about their work. I own works by all of them and I would be a fool if I didn’t. This selection of images should, I think, betray the contours of my taste without commentary. If this selection doesn’t speak for itself, I’m in trouble.

The only image that is not visibly accessible in the photograph is Robert Gober’s installation at the Geffen in Los Angeles. You cannot hear the waterfall rushing down stairs or look down through the suitcases into the aqueous, turquoise underworld that opens up beneath them. On the Sunday afternoon after the opening, I was there to give a little talk introducing the piece. There was a lot of milling around and controversy about the pipe through the Virgin. I noticed the Latino guy who guards the space looking smug so I walked over to him.

“You get it, don’t you,” I said.

“Duh,” he said. “Mercy flows through the Virgin.”


Ed Ruscha, The Canyons (“Laurel Canyon”;“Coldwater Canyon”; “Benedict Canyon”), 1979. 22″ x 80″. Oil on canvas. Copyright Ed Ruscha.


Ron Nagle, Sonny Boy’s Fifth, 2001. Earthenware and overglaze. 6 1⁄ 2″ x 6 1⁄ 4″ x 4″. Courtesy of the artist.




Ellsworth Kelly, Black Relief, 2007. Oil on canvas, two joined panels. 103 1⁄4″ x 56 5⁄8″ x 2 3⁄4 “.Private collection.


David Ryan, TVC15, 2007.Acrylic on MDF. 47″ x 59″ x 4″. Courtesy of the artist.



Gajin Fujita, Gold State Warriors, 2002. Spray paint, acrylic & gold and white gold leaf on wood panels. 60″ x 16″ each, 60″ x 192″ overall (12 panels). Courtesy of L.A. Louver,Venice, California.


James Gobel, Ridicule Is Nothing to Be Scared Of, 2005. Felt, yarn, acrylic on canvas.Triptych: 90″ x 192″. Collection of Stephen Heighton. Courtesy of Kravets/Wehby Gallery.


John Wesley, Leda and the Man, 1972.Acrylic on canvas. 40″ x 58″. Private Collection, New York. Courtesy of Fredericks & Freiser, New York.

Josiah McElheny, details of Karntner Bar,Vienna, 1908, Adolf Loos (White), 2001. Installation 12′ x 14′ x 27′ overall.

Robert Gober, Untitled, 1997. Leather, wood, forged iron, cast plastics, bronze, silk, satin, steel, wax, human hair, brick, fiberglass, urethane, paint, lead, motors, and water. Edition 1 of 2, 122 1⁄ 2″ x 104″ x 75″. Above ground: 35 1⁄ 2″ x 35 1⁄ 2″ x 40″. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by E. Blake Byrne, Sharon R. Menendez and Eugenio Lopez, and the Buehler Family Foundation.


Ken Price, Bo, 2007.Acrylic paint on fired ceramic. 10 1⁄ 2″ x 9″ x 7 1⁄ 2″. Courtesy of James Kelly Contemporary


Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body (Feminist Press, 2021), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender fiction, as well as Slug and Other Stories and Remember the Internet: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring.

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