22.4.06

Modernism

Well, I tried to get in on my Blue Peter badge, but the ploy failed so I had to stump up the 9 quid entrance fee! The nice thing about the Modernism: designing a new world (1914-1939) exhibition at the V&A is that it was utterly predictable. If you're old enough to have seen the big 30s exhibition at the Hayward back in 1980, or have visited the Bauhaus archive in Berlin, this is all familiar territory, except not as much fun! It's a big show though, starting with Malevich, Rodchenko and all the other Russians, then moving on to Erich Mendelsohn (with his wonderful drawings and a model of the Einstein Tower), to Corbu, De Stijl, and ending up with the stuff I like – a real Tatra T-87 car, Harry Beck's tube map and a Wells Coates Ekco radio. The most boring bit was the architecture room. Obviously it's difficult to transport buildings to the V&A so we had to make do with blown-up photos stuck on the wall. There were, however, several models, including Villa Savoye (which I tried to visit once but was closed) and the Rietveld Schroder house (been there, sat on the chair!). And loads and loads of lovely architectural drawings. But sadly no design drawings, unless you count the caterpillar bus/train in the 'nature' room. Nicest surprise were the ballet costumes of Oskar Schlemmer, which looked straight out of a Pet Shop Boys video, and the wacky fashion: a Max Miller multicoloured Futurist suit and some smart Russian production clothing. There were a couple of bits of real technology (a Bentley rotary engine off a WW1 plane and an X-ray machine) to pad out the 'stuff' and lots of chairs, but mostly it was an art and graphic design show, showing artists' reaction to technology. Lots of films to watch too, if you have the time. BTW the V&A is an inscrutable place, on the way out I was studying the map to see if I could find a route to the drawings collection, when a bemused foreign chap asked me if it was a museum he was in! Seeing as the first thing you see as you enter the place is the gift shop, he could be forgiven. And the expensive coffee in a paper cup in the unkempt garden café is a rip-off.
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