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News & Views

— February 14, 2012

Postmodernism: Hurry to see this exhibition!

…at the V&A until 15th January 2012

If like me you have sometimes been baffled by what was going in art, design and architecture during this period, then go and visit this excellent exhibition that will amusingly and in an enlightening way take you down memory lane.  Absolutely mesmerising: it made everything click into place about the energetic trends of architecture, art, design, fashion and social aspirations that were present.

As a backlash to the modernist ideals and its tail end failures of massive social housing projects, postmodernist architecture returned to principles of more individuality and historicism, together with an element of frivolous fun.  A catchy quote to summarise it is “Versailles and Las Vegas” – high classicism and ‘low’ popular culture”.

This was a time when fashion and music was charged with an electric energy and self expression was de rigueur. The maverick fashion designer that is Vivienne Westwood, offered the Punkature collection (1983) as a subversion of the glossy power dressing, shoulder padded styles of the early 80s. We have had Boho-chic, isn’t it time for a revival of the ‘Buffalo Gals’ ?!  A time when David Byrne’s Big Suit cast shadow puppet jumps on the stage and when the mannequin-esque Grace Jones ruled the floor with an icy glare of Demolition Man.
 
Ground breaking graphics displayed on record album covers: Kraftwerk’s The Robots (1977) paid homage to the Constructivists, New Order’s Movement (1981) based on the graphic work of Futurist designer Fortunato Depero (note to self: Frame up iconic LP covers – they will be future works of art).
 
Once upon time, before Photoshop was even a cheeky glimmer in Adobe’s eye, there existed bricolage – marvel at April Greiman and Jayme Odgers Cal Arts poster (1978) for the artistry in relation to collage and graphics that was in use before Photoshop was available at the click of a Mouse.  Admire Fred Baier’s ‘Prism Chair’ (1983) as the first piece of furniture designed on a computer.
 
You’ll get to grips with the challenging Studio Alcymia and Memphis movements and their sense of fun and irreverence.  Stare in wonder at Ettore Sottsass’s colourful ceramic totem poles and their nod to the influence of Pre-Columbian monuments ….. you may even see parallels to Constantin Brancusi and his Modernist totems influenced by African Art …..  After all, in all art movements there is always “a little bit of history repeating itself”!

With a doff of my hat in deference to all things fresh, fun and frivolous from the Postmodernist era, check out a few items of my lights from the period  ……………

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