What do the futuristic urban mise-en-scènes of Blade Runner and the brightly colored objects of Memphis Milano have in common? What about Andy Warhol’s art and the cover of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane?
Apparently nothing. Except that they have everything in common: a mix of the contradictory and the unstable, Postmodernism marked the second half of last century with its multiformity and indefinability. Now an important exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is celebrating a movement that from the 1970s to the 1990s had a great influence on art, design, architecture, music, cinema… and all of Western society.
Emerging in the late 1960s, the Postmodernist movement formed in reaction the idealistic visions of modernism, no surprise then that the V&A exhibition is called Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990. A rebellion in the name of plurality, controversy and above all, irony.
If Andy Warhol was the art icon of the period, with his representations of consumerism (his Dollar Sign is on show at the exhibition) and serial works, at the center of postmodernist design there was Milan, “the spiritual home of postmodernism and radical Italian design”.
One need only think of the fascinating shapes of Memphis design, multicolored objects of unusual geometric structure, with their playful style that to this day proves irresistible.
Or of the work of Studio Alchimia and Alessandro Mendini, designers and international spokesmen of the movement, by virtue, for the most part, of Domus, the design and architecture magazine.
From Alessandro Mendini’s Proust armchair to the cover art of Aladdin Sane by David Bowie, from the architecture of James Stirling to the constructivist maternity designed by Jean-Paul Goude and Antonio Lopez for Grace Jones; the Victoria and Albert exhibition boasts all of these works, on display through January 15th, alongside circa 250 others. A complex and fascinating snapshot of a period whose spirit is not yet spent and whose vitality continues to influence our way of looking at the world.
Style and Subversion 1970-1990
September 24th 2011 – January 15th 2012