Pattern and Decoration. Viaggio al termine del modernismo

Pasquale Fameli


The Pattern and Decoration movement, which emerged in New York in the mid-Seventies, was one of the most significant reactions to the minimalist and conceptual reductionisms of the previous artistic season. This phenomenon anticipated some of the fundamental problems of the art of the Eighties, such as the return to the materiality of the work, the recovery of the sensitive values of form and colour and, above all, the reassessment of decorativeness, still considered less important compared to other ways of the image. Supported by the gallery owner Holly Solomon and the critics Amy Goldin, John Perreault, Jeff Perrone and Francesca Alinovi, this movement was immediately successful, unfortunately followed by a rapid decline. However, its rediscovery is necessary, as proved by the concomitance of some exhibitions recently held in some of the major European and American museums. Thanks to the proscription of avant-garde formalism and the direct confrontation with the logic of Kitsch, Pattern and Decoration marked the end of modernity and its rationalizing models, deconstructing the canons of modernism and legitimizing a multi-ethnic and pluralistic aesthetic. The operational strategies of Pattern Painting also seem to faithfully reflect some of the fundamental concepts of more mature postmodernism, with particular reference to the thinking of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The two philosophers contrast the “striated” space of modernity, based on rationalizing criteria, with the “smooth” space of postmodernity, which follows the logic of patchwork and constitutes the ideal paradigm of a nomadic, syncretic and rhizomatic culture. Starting from all these considerations, the essay focuses on the aesthetic assumptions of the movement, examining the critical reflections of Goldin, Perreault, Perrone and Alinovi and the poetics of some its exponents, including Valerie Jaudon, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, Joyce Kozloff and Miriam Schapiro. The comparison with the theories of Deleuze and Guattari and other authors engaged in the re-evaluation of the decorative allows us to confirm the importance of its proposal for the cultural context of the Eighties.


Pattern; Decoration; Kitsch; Postmodern; Deleuze


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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2611-0563/9427


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