Exhibitions

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990


Victoria & Albert Museum, London
24 September 2011 – 8 January 2012

Rooms 38 and 39, and North Court
Admission charge will apply

The ideas of Postmodernism emerged first in architecture. While the Modernist slogan had been ‘less is more’, architects like Robert Venturi, Michael Graves and Aldo Rossi insisted that ‘less is a bore’. They took a new interest in buildings from the past, and from popular phenomena such as highway strip malls. Though few of these early Postmodern buildings were actually constructed, the ideas forwarded by this “paper architecture” became hugely influential on everything from furniture to graphics.

The exhibition will also look at the popular side of Postmodernism, especially the music of the time: raves, New Wave, Hip-hop and graffiti art. With the help of the new design medium of the pop-promo video, the new Postmodern celebrities-like Grace Jones, Boy George and Madonna-became famous, most of all, for being famous. Their relationship to the media was more self-conscious, more ironic, and more artfully designed than the popular culture icons of any previous period.

The exhibition ends on a spectacular note, with a section devoted to the boom years of the 1980s, in London and New York, across Europe, and in East Asia, Latin America and Africa. Wherever you went, speed, excess, and fame were the key words of the moment. Design was big business. Now it was not just architects who thought that More was More.

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