Who are the dandies of our times? Do they even still exist? That elegant gentleman, strolling along the arcades of Paris with a tortoise on a leash – do we really need him any more? The antiquated image of the dandy, of the man in the finely cut suit gazing impassively upon the world while sipping a glass of champagne, seems out of date today. But the attitude concealed behind this image has come to seem promising again. World views centered solely upon themselves go into ecstasies trying to persuade us to believe in their own identity over all others. A dandy, by contrast, allows himself the luxury of having no opinions and remaining without any fixed qualities of his own. Instead of tending to his subjective emotional world, and letting himself be manipulated by its reactions, he coldly regards himself as a malleable object, and rejects any notions of (self) certainty in order to become someone, or even something, artificial.
No Dandy No Fun traces the transformations of this model from the nineteenth century to the present, showing different facets of its multiple biography. This developmental history of a conceptual character is told through a series of snapshots that make no claim to being comprehensive. And how could they, given that the complex figure of the dandy spreads before us like a vast ocean, whose horizon our confounded eyes strain to see. Many of those who appear in the exhibition were not considered dandies up until now. They are examples of how the manifestations of a certain ‘type’ might be further conceptually developed through other bodies. Special attention is paid here to those figures who appear only on the margins of the familiar narratives that surround this character: the woman as dandy, the black dandy, the attempts by dandies to become more like machines, and the dandy as the subliminal blueprint for contemporary art.