Postmodernism: Italian design subversion at Mart

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Martine Bedin (for Memphis): Super Lamp prototype, 1981 © Victoria & Albert Museum

Mart (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Trento and Rovereto, Italy) is the new home for Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970–1990, a major exhibition curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt which we first previewed during its London stop at the Victoria & Albert museum.

Ettore Sottsass (for Memphis): Credenza Casablanca, 1981 © Victoria & Albert Museum

The show is the first complete overview of art, architecture and design of the 1970s and 1980s, and will remain at Mart until 3rd June documenting a period marked by controversial attempts to define the new cultural scenarios in the wake of major modern avant-garde movements.

Keith Haring: Untitled, 1983 © Mart

The exhibition takes as its starting point the analysis of a series of radical ideas developed in strong opposition to the orthodox ideas of Modernism: an overturning of the concepts of purity and simplicity, to be replaced by new forms and colours, historic quotations, parodies and, above all, by a new sense of freedom associated with architecture and design.

Peter Shire (for Memphis): Sedia Bel Air, 1981-82 © Victoria & Albert Museum
Over 200 objects are featured, across all genres of art, architecture and design. First of all is the subversive design of Ettore Sottsass for the Studio Memphis, architectural models and rendering, together with preparatory drawings by Philip Johnson for the AT&T skyscraper (1978); works by Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman and Ai Weiwei; the 1986 stainless steel bust of Louis XIV by Jeff Koons; performances and costumes including the Big Suit worn by David Byrne for Stop Making Sense in 1984; music videos by Grace Jones and New Order; and also surprising objects such as the dinner services designed by architects Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki.

See how the movement continues to influence design today in our recent report, Post-Postmodernism.