Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990
For architects, designers and artists the mid-1980s was an era when being brash, witty, colourful and even kitsch was considered de rigueur. And yet, as the V&A’s new exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 demonstrates, while the 1980s will forever be remembered as the decade of postmodernism, the movement’s roots can be traced back to 10 years earlier.
The V&A’s major autumn exhibition is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, examining one of the most divisive philosophies in recent art and design history. It traces postmodernism’s evolution from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s to an aesthetic juggernaut that spread its influence over all areas of popular culture - including art, film, music, graphics and fashion.
Rebelling against the constrictive doctrines of modernism, architects and designers like Charles Moore, Terry Farrell, Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsas argued that form needn’t necessarily follow function, that designers should be free to inject humour and parody into their work, cherry-picking a hotch-potch of historical influences. With postmodernism, ’style’ went from being almost a dirty word to being the sine qua non.
Curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt, the exhibition brings together over 250 objects across a wide range of genres. Regular Wallpaper* contributors Carmody Groarke were tasked with creating the exhibition design and the 3D aspects of the show, while the eye-popping graphics were designed by A Practice For Everyday Life (APFEL).
In addition to architectural models and renderings, expect exuberant designs from Italian collectives Studio Alchimia and Memphis, graphics by Peter Saville and Neville Brody, music videos featuring Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones and New Order, and performance costumes - including David Byrne’s oversized suit from 1984 documentary Stop Making Sense.