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Postmodern Art and Pop Culture at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum

Homage to Levi-Strauss ziggurat dress

At London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990” is a romp through two decades of excess and provocation—and the final installment in a series of seminal blockbuster shows that have included Art Deco, surrealism, and Modernism. The exhibition, curated by Glen Adamson and Jane Pavitt, is the first to cover the postmodern period in depth, tracing the movement’s origins as an architectural style to its influence on pop culture in art, film, graphics, fashion, and music. Expect to see bold colors and patterns, with ample servings of parody and irony. Among the 250 objects on display are the drawings for Philip Johnson’s AT&T building (1984) in New York City; a re-creation of Jenny Holzer’s illuminated billboard Protect Me from What I Want (1983–85); and stage costumes for Annie Lennox, Devo, and David Byrne (his big suit from the 1984 documentary Stop Making Sense). Exhibition surprise: a video room playing New Order’s 1986 single “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the epitome of the aesthetic overload of the eighties—and postmodernism (through Jan. 15, 2012).

Photo by V&A Images

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Opens New Galleries for Islamic Art

Islamic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The opening of a 15-gallery suite that houses the peerless collection of Islamic art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (opens Nov. 1) could not come at a more appropriate geopolitical moment. Filled with 1,200 works of art, from Spain to India, the renovated galleries show the extraordinary diversity, sweep, and influence of 13 centuries of Islamic civilization. Don’t miss the Patti Cadby Birch Court, an interior patio based on a late-medieval Moroccan design meticulously created by craftsmen from Fez.

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

NYC & London's New Theater Lineup

Harry Connick Jr.: New York City theater

Silver-screen actors are answering the curtain call. Here, a look at who you’ll see in New York and London this season.

The Star: Frank Langella
The Show: Roundabout Theater Company’s Man and Boy, Terence Rattigan’s drama about a ruthless tycoon facing ruin by scandal.
The Details: American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., New York; 212/719-1300; through Nov. 27.

The Stars: Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett
The Show: The Mountaintop, centered on the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.
The Details: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., New York; 212/239-6200; through Jan. 15.

The Star: Tracey Ullman
The Show: My City—the premiere of acclaimed writer/director Stephen Poliakoff’s first play in more than a decade—follows a former teacher and two students from her past.
The Details: Almeida Theatre, Almeida St., London; 44-20/7359-4404; through Nov. 5.

The Star: Harry Connick Jr.
The Show: On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, a twisted and funny redo of the 1965 musical about reincarnation.
The Details: St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., New York; 212/239-6200; opens Dec. 11.

The Stars: Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones
The Show: Driving Miss Daisy, the classic tale of friendship between a stubborn old lady and her driver.
The Details: Wyndham’s Theatre, 32 Charing Cross Rd., London; 44-844/482-5120; through Dec. 17.

Illustration by Jason Lee

Los Angeles Events: Pacific Standard Time

storage unit by Charles and Ray Eames at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Set your clocks. This fall the world shifts to “Pacific Standard Time,” the festival of exhibitions and performances highlighting southern California’s contribution to American postwar art and design. Involving more than 60 institutions, Pacific Standard Time gives a West Coast perspective to the period from the mid-1940’s to the 1980’s when the U.S. supplanted Europe as the center of the art universe. Highlights: “Crosscurrents in L.A. Paintings and Sculpture 1950–1970” (Oct. 1–Feb. 5, 2012), at the Getty Center, is a survey ranging from the sculpture of Billy Al Bengston and John McCracken to the conceptual Pop of Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari.

“Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980,” at the UCLA Hammer Museum (through Jan. 8, 2012), sheds new light on the dynamism of African-American expression in the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.

The Museum of Contemporary Art explores post-Vietnam political and social upheaval in works by Raymond Pettibon, Bruce Nauman, and others in “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–1981” (through Feb. 13, 2012).

“California Design, 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (through Mar. 25, 2012) includes furniture and decorative objects that epitomize California style.

Photo © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

On Our Radar: Guangzhou, China

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Long viewed as the ugly stepsister to Shanghai and Beijing, Guangzhou is hitting its stride. The Zaha Hadid–designed, daringly asymmetrical Guangzhou Opera House (pictured above) opened recently and it’s garnered a lot of notice among architecture circles for its glass-and-granite frame and spider web-like interiors. Other notable new buildings include the Guangdong Museum, the Guangzhou New Library, and the Canton Tower. Meanwhile, five luxury hotels are opening this year, including the Four Seasons and W Guangzhou.

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at xiaochen6.

Photo by iStock

JW Marriott and Christie's Auction House Join Forces

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Art lovers curious to see works that the venerable auction house Christie’s puts on the block don’t need to go to an actual auction. Thanks to a recent partnership with JW Marriott, art from upcoming Christie’s sales will be displayed in special preview exhibits at hotels around the world.

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Guangzhou Gets a New Center for Chinese Art and Culture

Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid

Even by Chinese standards, Guangzhou’s transformation from a gritty industrial port into a gleaming metropolis for Chinese culture has been lightning-fast. Now, China’s third-largest city, just 130 miles north of Hong Kong, has been raising its arts profile. The most striking example? A new cultural complex overlooking the Pearl River that includes a museum, a library, and the dazzling Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid. The contoured structure, with its 1,804-seat auditorium and a smaller black-box theater in conjoined granite-clad wings, was inspired by a pair of boulders worn smooth by water. The highlight of the inaugural season: the first Guangzhou Arts Festival, with performances by Spain’s National Ballet (Sept. 23–24), the Vienna Boys’ Choir (Oct. 15), and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Dec. 30–31).

Photo by Iwan Baan

Urban Design Exhibition Opens at the United Nations

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The United Nations estimates that by 2030, nearly five billion people will live in cities around the world – about 40% of whom are projected to be occupying informal settlements, or slums, in over-saturated global metropolises. Add to this the finding that already today, approximately 90% of the world’s population is surviving with little to no access to fundamental goods and services.

Design With the Other 90%: Cities” (405 E 42nd St., October 15 - January 9, 2012), an exhibition marking a first-time collaboration between the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the United Nations in New York, sheds light on the role of architecture, infrastructure, and alternative energy sources in creating progressive solutions to the challenges facing city dwellers and planners, resulting from unprecedented population growth and rapid urbanization.

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Helsinki: So Hot Right Now

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It may be getting chilly in the Baltics, but Helsinki is heating up. Finland’s biggest city—perhaps best known for its colorful Marimekko prints and Modernist works by the late, great Alvar Aalto, not to mention its abundant saunas—has been named the 2012 World Design Capital.

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Montenegro’s Guitar Hero Makes His Carnegie Hall Debut

Milos Karadaglic

No doubt Montenegro’s 28-year-old Miloš Karadaglić could get by on his dreamboat looks alone. They’re matched by a virtuoso guitar technique and deep musicality that make Miloš, as he’s known professionally, one of the most galvanizing classical instrumentalists to emerge in recent years. Born in Montenegro—“The most beautiful country in the world,” he says, with some justification—Miloš was eight when he picked up his father’s battered old guitar. By age 16, he was accomplished enough to win a scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music. Today, Miloš seems poised for a major international career. Deutsche Grammophon recently released his first recording, Mediterráneo; following club appearances at New York’s Living Room and at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut this past weekend in the intimate Weill Recital Hall. Look for more dates in the future. We will be following this rising star.

Photo by Olaf Heine

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