Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970-90
24 September-15 January 2012
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Catalogue by Glenn Adamson and
Jane Pavitt (eds.)
ISBN 9781851776597 (hardback) 40 [pounds sterling]
This first major overview of the postmodern aesthetic displays a delicious irony: the very movement that Postmodernism purported to revile, early 20th-century Modernism, ended up endowing it with forms and substance that would otherwise have been found lacking.
Curators Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt have tackled a daunting brief by assembling an astounding array of images, photographs, films, music, furniture, jewellery and essays by leading writers. Their giant time capsule, spanning the 1970s and 1980s, poses as many questions as it answers about Postmodernism and the epoch in which it flourished as a 'condition', as the philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard memorably described it.
But was Postmodernism, in tandem with Francis Fukuyama's notion of the 'end of history', really the style to end all styles? Was it even a style at all? Did this amorphous, rejectionist, nihilistic outburst amount to a cohesive whole, or was/is it simply a...