Philip Mann Author

Today we have a nice interview with Philip Mann. He was born in Germany and has lived in London since 1988, where he gained a degree in the History of Art. He has written for Vogue as well as for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and has lectured on matters of taste in Paris, Vienna, New York, Bern, and London. In 1994 he curated the Archigram group at the Kunsthalle, Vienna. He co-edited the anthology “Geld muss man in der Tasche haben, sonst geht das Schwein nicht aus dem Wege: Bittbriefe von W. A. Mozart bis Henry Miller” published by Berlin Press in 2008. He also contributed articles to various books including “Höflichkeit: Aktualität und Genese von Umgangsformen” published by Wilhelm Fink Verlag in 2002 and “Ernährungsgrundlagen für den leidenschaftlichen Trinker” published by Metrolit in 2013.

We talked to Philip about his book The Dandy at Dusk – Taste and Melancholy in the 20th Century and about his career as an author.


Philip, tell us about yourself: 

I was born in Germany but moved to London at the beginning of my twenties. I originally came to complete my higher education but ended up staying 30 years. Having neither the talent for making money nor the discipline to endure authority I ended up engaging with my aesthetic phantoms. A makeshift living at best but the only one I can manage.

Tell us about The Dandy at Dusk – Taste, and Melancholy in the 20th Century: 

The Dandy at Dusk is a book-project I embarked on late in the 20th century. A look back at the visual cultures I have seen and those that preceded them. Through its long gestation, the project has been through many guises. What has remained to the point of publication are the aesthetic biographies of the six tastemakers that have been most influential in my life: Adolf Loos, The Duke of Windsor, Bunny Roger, Quentin Crisp, Jean-Pierre Melville, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

How your degree in History of Art has influenced your career 

I went to university in the late 1980s and the course I followed offered – apart from straight History of Art – plenty of modules in Design and Film, which were and have remained my main interests. I was lucky to have extremely inspiring tutors some of which I am still in contact with. It was a course with a fairly Marxist bias and I feel privileged to have learned to look at aesthetic matters critically. Marx was right in stating that “being forms consciousness”, though I have found in my life that the opposite is also true. Being and consciousness are in a relationship that couldn’t be more dialectical.

Tell us about your experience with the anthology Geld muss man in der Tasche haben, sonst geht das Schwein nicht aus dem Wege: Bittbriefe von W. A. Mozart bis Henry Miller: 

As the title suggests this is an anthology of begging letters written by famous people in dire straits. While I am hardly famous I can identify with the latter. What remains in my mind are some recurring phrases “instead of paying you back the enormous sum of money I already owe you, I am asking you for more (Mozart)” and the amusing abrasiveness of debtors towards their creditors “The animal refuses me any more credit” (Marx).

To whom is your blog The Dandy at Dusk dedicated?

To anybody with a lively interest in lived aesthetics.

Why did you decide to be an author? 

More salubrious avenues didn’t seem to be open to me.

What does fashion mean to you? 

Fashion is best enjoyed in retrospect. The dandy pays attention to fashion only so he can studiously ignore it.

What is your favourite fashion period and why? 

My main aesthetic passion is for what the French call le trente glorieuses. The 1950s, 60s, and 70s of the 20th century will in all likelihood turn out to be the most enlightened period in the history of humanity. Right now we are not only living in a post-historical period as far as styles and fashions are concerned but worse in a period of pronounced political atavisms. My particular favourite, perhaps perversely, are the 1970s, the Hellenism to the classicism of the late 50s and early 60s.

To know more about Philip, please visit: The Dandy at Dusk


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