Dave Hickey, a curator, professor and author known for a passionate defence of beauty in his collection of essays The Invisible Dragon and his wide-ranging cultural criticism, is walking away from a world he says is calcified, self-reverential and a hostage to rich collectors who have no respect for what they are doing.
"They're in the hedge fund business, so they drop their windfall profits into art. It's just not serious," he told the Observer. "Art editors and critics – people like me – have become a courtier class. All we do is wander around the palace and advise very rich people. It's not worth my time."
It is actually much worse in philanthropy. Where in the art world do we have the equivalent of Impact Investing, where all that is holy is treated as a crass means to whatever end is of interest to the benighted social investor? Well, check that. Perhaps art is the best social investment with a double bottom line: beauty which is in the eye of the beholder and objective cold cash on cash return to the collector. Crass is good. Crass owns all, does all, all reports to Crass. And,I, Sir, am its Trusted Advisor. By Crass, I in no way mean my immediate supervisor and generous patron, she who rules us all. I have nothing but the highest respect for my boss.