As a style, postmodernism is a delight; as a way of thinking, it is incoherent. This is readily apparent at the Victoria and Albert’s museum exhibition “Postmodernism, Style, and Subversion.” The postmodern artifacts, the tiny films, and the plans, models, and photographs of postmodern buildings are an inspired collection, but the general commentary is garbled. What the postmodern artists have said about their own work often makes little sense and the analyses of the theorists of theory cited make no sense at all. They explain postmodernism in terms of social change without producing proper empirical data to backup their case. Their abstract claims are not even airy but hang in a gravity-free vacuum. Visitors will need to concentrate on that which they can see for themselves. In fairness, the brief accounts of particular items given alongside them are often very cogent and helpful, and a visit is a treat.

 

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