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Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990

— August 2011

Associated media

Jean-Paul Goude, Grace Jones maternity dress1979 © Jean-Paul Goude





24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012

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 objectsacross 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.

Sir Mark Jones, Director of the V&A, said: ‘This exhibition will be the first to examine this dramatic period in the history of art and design. It is good to be holding it now with so many of the key protagonists giving us their first hand experiences of the emergence and spread of postmodern style in design around the world.’

Tickets:  £11 (concessions available)

For advance bookings visit (booking fee applies)




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