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Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 11.00 hours

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Herefordshire ('on location' at a stately home, photographed)

  • Date:

    1998 (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Shonibare, Yinka, born 1962 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    C-type print. Unglazed in a fake gilt frame.

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Photographs Acquisition Group

  • Museum number:

    E.235-2013

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Diary of a Victorian Dandy is a series of five photographs depicting the artist Yinka Shonibare playing the role of a dandy. The series of tableaux show this pretentious, status-conscious figure who seeks acceptance in an aristocratic milieu, at different times of day, engaged in increasingly debaucherous activities. The work demonstrates Shonibare’s identification with the dandy as an outsider or foreigner who uses his flamboyance, wit and style to penetrate the highest levels of society, which would otherwise be closed to him. Much of Shonibare's work engages with his ‘outsider’ status as a black, disabled artist and investigates conditions of postcolonialism and globalisation. This series also engages with the construction of identity and nostalgic representations of British heritage.

The photographs are the result of an elaborate production. Shonibare employed professional actors, make up artists and costumiers, a commercial photographer, and the director of BBC costume dramas for a three day shoot ‘on location’ at a stately home. Shonibare describes the photographs, which he presents in fake gilt frames, as ‘pure theatre’.

The series was commissioned by the Institue of International Visual Arts (InIVA) and was first shown by reproducing one of the photographs as a poster at around 100 sites across the London Underground. The display was deliberately ambiguous and InIVA employed a market research company to test public responses to the posters. The people surveyed mostly associated the image with theatre productions, stately homes and period dramas, as well as genuine historical figures. The photographs are conscious imitations of these sources and also make reference to William Hogarth’s series of paintings and engravings A Rake’s Progress (1733).

Diary of a Victorian Dandy was acquired in part through the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Physical description

A framed colour photograph of a man dressed in a white bed shirt and red shawl pictured lying in bed surrounded by four women dressed as maids and one man dressed as a butler. There are three paintings hung in gilt frames on the wall behind the bed.

Place of Origin

Herefordshire ('on location' at a stately home, photographed)

Date

1998 (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Shonibare, Yinka, born 1962 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

C-type print. Unglazed in a fake gilt frame.

Dimensions

Height: 122 cm image, Width: 183 cm image, Height: 134.5 cm frame, Width: 195.5 cm frame

Object history note

The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Yinka Shonibare, 'Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 11.00 hours' from the series Diary of a Victorian Dandy, C-type print, 1998, printed 2012, AP 1 of 2, from an edition of 5, plus 2 APs

Labels and date

Making It Up: Photographic Fictions (2018)

In this series, Shonibare plays the role of a dandy, an outsider who uses his flamboyance, wit and style to penetrate the highest levels of society. Loosely based on William Hogarth’s cycle of paintings and engravings A Rake’s Progress (1733), the photographs follow the dandy’s increasingly decadent activities throughout the day. As a playful comment on historic depictions of black people, Shonibare imagines himself as a central character in scenes set during the height of British colonial power.

Marta Weiss []
Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s
16 February – 24 May 2015

Yinka Shonibare MBE (born 1962)
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 11.00 hours
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 14.00 hours
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 17.00 hours
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 21.00 hours
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 03.00 hours
1998

In this series, Shonibare plays the role of a dandy, an
outsider who uses his flamboyance, wit and style to
penetrate the highest levels of society. Loosely based on
William Hogarth’s 18th-century series of paintings A Rake’s
Progress, the photographs follow the dandy’s increasingly
decadent activities throughout the day. As a playful
comment on historic depictions of black people, Shonibare
imagines himself as a central character in scenes set during
the height of British colonial power.

C-type prints (printed 2012)
Purchased in part by the Photographs Acquisition Group
Museum nos. E.235 to 239-2013 [16/02/2015-24/05/2015]

Techniques

C-type process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Bed; Paintings

Categories

Photographs; African Diaspora; Entertainment & Leisure; Fakes & forgeries; Frames; Colonialism and Empire; Disability

Production Type

Artist's proof

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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