Contextual Studies ‘Postmodernism’ 01/11/16

In art, postmodernism was specifically a reaction against modernism which had dominated art theory and practice since the beginning of the twentieth century.

From a mainly architectural movement in the 1970s, postmodernism went on to influence almost all culture in the 1980s: art, design, graphics, fashion, music, dance and theatre. Postmodernism was the spirit of the 80s.

  • Jean-Paul Goude, Grace Jones maternity dress (1979)© Jean-Paul Goudegrace_jones_maternity_1322655615_crop_550x794.jpg

Art director Jean-Paul Goude brought Postmodernism’s bold shapes and historical references into the fashion world with his maternity dress for Grace Jones, which both disguised and celebrated her pregnancy. In the next instalment from our season, we explore the genesis of the dress and how it made Jones a poster child for the design movement everyone loves to hate.

Goude provided styling and art direction for Jones during the 1970s and 1980s. Although they were long-term collaborators professionally, the two also developed a personal relationship and the Jamaican model-turned-popstar became pregnant with his baby in 1979.”I wasn’t ready to be a parent and to have that responsibility, but Grace wanted to keep the baby so we did,” Goude told Dezeen. “We stayed together and I softened up.”

Goude and Puerto Rican fashion designer Antonio Lopez created a range of Constructivist maternity clothes for the pregnant Jones to wear during gigs and performances, including an avant-garde outfit that later became linked to the Postmodern movement.

  • i-D – The Arts Issue, No 28 August 1985


The magazine was designed by Terry Jones who utilized aggressive collages, heightened use of color, and experimental typography to achieve a striking, dramatic design aesthetic. As postmodernism favors expressive designs and a rebellion against for strict constraints, and many of the designers who pioneered this movement were young, the design aesthetics of a magazine centered around a postmodern youth culture proved to be a perfect catalyst for such experimentations in typography and image manipulation. An important facet of postmodern design theory is the idea of anti-humanism, which explains that a universal principle cannot possibly be shared by all human beings, and insists that any principles must be determined historically and culturally.

  • Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), artist : Jeff Koonstumblr_lyo4znaVk51qggdq1.jpg

In this piece, Michael Jackson and his pet monkey and closest friend, Bubbles, are shown life-size sitting on a bed of flowers. The work is a good example of the excesses that characterize Koons’ art in terms of color, size, and theme. At the time, Jackson was at the height of his popularity, which Koons underscored by painting the figures in gold in order to make Jackson into a “god-like icon.” The gold and white coloring is also reminiscent of  Baroque and Rococo art.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s