Fashion Veteran Phillip Bogart Duncan Aspires to Daily Ocean Swims, Cherishes His Lee Friedlander, and Never Met a Secondhand Book Store He Didn’t Like
We asked the cofounder of Daisy Chain, a biannual art and fashion publication, about the things he values most—in art and in life.
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in terms of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level.
Philip Bogart Duncan is betting on the future of print—and photography—in a real way. When Duncan, a former associate art director at Vogue, and fellow fashion industry veteran Charles Daigrepont Desselle hit pause on their busy careers during the pandemic, inspiration struck. The longtime colleagues dreamed up Daisy Chain magazine—a provocative, photo-focused new biannual publication highlighting the medium in all its glorious and motley forms. Now the inaugural issue “Space” has arrived, showcasing a playful mix of talents including Vince Aletti and Emma Summerton along with Thibaut Grevet, Shaniqwa Jarvis, Kuba Ryniewicz, and Zeng Wu. These contemporary artists’ images bring new context for a curation of well-known works by Irving Penn, Viviane Sassen, and others. Each forthcoming issue of the lavishly illustrated, and decidedly fun magazine will be curated to a new theme and bring together seasoned talents, rising young photographers, and a few art historical images for good measure.
For Duncan, working on Daisy Chain daily is the real dream. But he balances work with the right measure of pleasure—and he certainly knows how to live well. In his off time, Duncan loves to jet off to Hydra and swim in the Aegean Sea. What’s he saving up for? A cliff-top beach house. Sign us up! Recently we caught up with Duncan and chatted about what he values in art and life—and why. Keep your eyes peeled for the second issue of Daisy Chain, meanwhile, in the fall of this year.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
A new iPhone, organic pancake mix.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
A beach house on a high cliff.
What would you buy if you found $100?
Used books and old magazines. I look for second-hand bookstores wherever I go, which can make for heavy luggage, but I like the random aspect, things not found elsewhere.
I’ve recently picked up a stack of 1970s and 80s French photo magazines for a steal, and a US Camera magazine from 1967. Recent books are Bill Brandt’s nudes ($15) and Fassbender’s film stills (new).
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
Swimming in the Aegean Sea. I grew up camping on the beach in Northern California, I love the California coast the most, nowhere is more beautiful, I’ve also grown to appreciate warm and tranquil waters.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
Daisy Chain’s cofounder, Charles, he’s brilliant, always focused on the vision and forging a path forward. Thank god for Charles.
What do you most value in a work of art?
“There is only one valuable thing in art, the thing you cannot explain.”—Georges Braque
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
For me, the most interesting thing that’s emerging is all the work by people who were not included in the canon and are now being celebrated.
Working on Daisy Chain has allowed me to get to know and collaborate with people I previously had no cause to work with. Two notable contributors are Kuba Ryniewicz and Zeng Wu. Kuba is Polish and lives in the UK, he’s queer and has a big heart which comes through in his photographs. He shot a beautiful portfolio in his hometown of Puszczykowo, Poland, of his observations, his friends, his family, and some curious men.
Zeng Wu is Shanghai-based. He’s very established in China but less known in the West. I love his combination of tech and romance. He took a team to Zhangjiajie (worth googling) to shoot in an epic cave. We wanted a strong, original Sci-Fi shoot, and Zeng Wu delivered.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
In Daisy Chain, it’s important for us to seek out lesser-known works. We want to showcase art from a variety of people; different eras, styles, the overlooked, the forgotten, and the omitted. In issue 1 we were honored to include a beautiful photograph by Melvin Sokolsky who passed away last August. He’s someone who is known but perhaps hasn’t gotten his due, he took risks and had a wonderful humor in his work.
What is your most treasured possession?
My health! I also have a great Lee Friedlander picture of a Corvette behind a chain-link fence I love, and a photo Hans Feurer gave me from his first-ever shoot with the telephoto lens for Vogue Paris in 1970.
What’s been your best investment?
Traveling the world. I started working pretty hard right after college. I spent all my money going to far-flung places, totally worth it.
What is something small that means the world to you?
My eyes. So glad they still work for the most part.
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
My dear friend, Ann Young Lee, runs CORE, a global crisis response organization, doing incredible and backbreaking work in underserved communities all over the world including Ukraine, Turkey, Haiti, and even the U.S. Tremendous respect for all the people who do this work, they work their butts off and have a huge impact.
What do you aspire to?
Continue to build and improve Daisy Chain and swim in the ocean every day.
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