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From Postmodern Style to Performance

  • Nick Kaye
Chapter
Part of the New Directions in Theatre book series

Abstract

In his account of the Strada Novissima, an exhibition of façades designed by some 30 architects and first shown in 1980 at the Venice Biennale under the title ‘The Presence of the Past’, Paolo Portoghesi describes a turning against the values and stylisations of modern architecture. Including the work of Robert Stern, Ricardo Bofill, Charles Moore, Robert Venturi, John Rauch and Denise Scott Brown, Aldo Rossi, the TAU Group, Hans Hollein and Portoghesi himself, among other European and American architects, the Strada Novissima marked a crystallisation of a rejection of modern design which can be traced back to the late 1960s.1 In a flat opposition to modern architecture’s valorisation of uncluttered geometrical form and its casting off of reference, symbol and the traditional grammar of architecture, Portoghesi describes a new ‘architecture of communication’ an ‘architecture of the image’,2 characterised by ironic plays with conventions and styles from the past. Observing the loss of faith in the modernist tenets of ‘useful = beautiful’, ‘structural truth = aesthetic prestige’, ‘ “form follows function” … “ornament is crime,” and so on’,3 Portoghesi argues that the Strada Novissima speaks of a widespread attack on the modernist aspiration to a ‘pure language’ of form. Significantly, too, Portoghesi takes such ‘postmodern’ design to be more than an ‘overcoming’ of modernist stylisations, more than ‘a simple change of direction’, but ‘a refusal, a rupture, a renouncemere’4 of the fundamental assumptions legitimating the modernist rejection of the past.

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Notes

  1. 6.
    U. Conrads, Programmes and Manifestos on Twentieth Century Architecture (London, 1970) p. 74.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    C. Jencks, Post-modernism: The New Classicism in Art and Architecture (London, 1987) p. 330.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    H. Klotz, The History of Postmodern Architecture (London, 1988) p. 421.Google Scholar
  4. 28.
    N. Carrol, ‘A Select View of Earthlings: Ping Chong’, Drama Review, vol. xxvii, no. 1 (1983) pp. 72–81.Google Scholar
  5. 30.
    See, for example, W. W. Demastes, ‘Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia and the Evolution of an Ironic Presence’, Theatre Journal, vol. xxxxi, no. 1 (1989) pp. 75–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 31.
    See N. Kaye, ‘Richard Schechner: Theory and Practice of the Indeterminate Theatre’, New Theatre Quarterly, vol. v, no. 20 (1989) pp. 348–60.Google Scholar
  7. 33.
    J. Derrida, Of Grammatology (London, 1976) p. 7.Google Scholar
  8. 35.
    See, for example, H. Foster, Wild Signs: the Breakup of the Sign in ‘70s Art’, in J. Tagg (ed.), The Cultural Politics of Postmodernism (New York, 1989 ).Google Scholar
  9. 36.
    J. Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication (New York, 1987) p. 11.Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    J. F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Manchester, 1984) p. xxvii.Google Scholar
  11. 39.
    B. Readings, Introducing Lyotard: Art and Politics (London, 1991) p. 69.Google Scholar
  12. 46.
    U. Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose’ (London, 1985) p. 67.Google Scholar
  13. 47.
    S. Lash, Sociology of Postmodernism (London, 1990) p. 157.Google Scholar
  14. 49.
    See, particularly, M. Fried, ‘Art and Objecthood’, in G. Battcock (ed.), Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York, 1968 ).Google Scholar

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© Nick Kaye 1994

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  • Nick Kaye

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