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museum exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 - 1990

September 24, 2011 – January 17, 2012

museum exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 - 1990

September 24, 2011 – January 17, 2012

What does Postmodernism mean, and where did it come from? The V&A will explore these questions in a new exhibition focusing on the 1970s and 1980s.

The ideas of Postmodernism first emerged in architecture as new interest was shown in buildings from the past and the minimalism of Modernism was eschewed. These early ideas began to influence other areas of design, including furniture and graphics. The exhibition will also look at the popular side of Postmodernism, especially the music of the time such as raves, New Wave and hip-hop, and graffiti art. Design became big business in the boom years of the 1980s when speed, excess and fame were keywords and more is more was the mantra of the time.

The V&A's major autumn exhibition will be the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, examining one of the most contentious phenomena in recent art and design history: Postmodernism. It will show how Postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture including art, film, music, graphics and fashion.

The exhibition will explore the radical ideas that challenged the orthodoxies of Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colour, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit, and above all, a newfound freedom in design. Many modernists considered style to be a mere sideshow to their utopian visions; but for the postmodernists, style was everything.

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 - 1990 will bring together over 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a 'look' but became an attitude. On display will be the subversive designs of the Italian collectives Studio Alchymia and Memphis; graphics by Peter Saville and Neville Brody; architectural models and renderings, including the original presentation drawing for Philip Johnson's AT&T building (1978); paintings by Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol; Jeff Koons' stainless steel bust of Louis XIV (1986); an enormous recreation of Jenny Holzer's illuminated billboard Protect Me From What I Want (1983-85); performance costumes, including David Byrne's big suit from the documentary Stop Making Sense (1984); excerpts from films such as Derek Jarman's The Last of England (1987); and music videos featuring Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones and New Order.

Exhibition Artists