Virgil Abloh: Figures Of Speech
Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech is the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the genre-bending artist and designer Virgil Abloh . Abloh pioneers a practice that cuts across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers, and architects.
Abloh cultivated an interest in design and music at an early age, finding inspiration in the urban culture of Chicago. While pursuing a masters degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he worked on album covers, concert designs, and merchandising. In 2013, Abloh founded his stand-alone fashion brand Off-White in Milan, Italy, and, in 2018, assumed the position of artistic director of Louis Vuittons menswear.
Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and set in an immersive space designed by Rem Koolhaass renowned architecture firm OMA*AMO, the exhibition will offer an in-depth look at defining highlights of Ablohs career, including signature clothing collections, video documentation of iconic fashion shows, distinctive furniture and graphic design work, and collaborative projects with contemporary artists. A program of cross-disciplinary offerings will mirror the artists range of interests across music and design.
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Near these tables is a model of Chicago Abloh’s hometown with a proposed skyscraper based on Abloh’s master’s thesis in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2003.
Taken together, Figures of Speech works as a holistic retrospective of Abloh’s creative work. However, Sargent said that the Brooklyn Museum’s show should be considered the last living work by Abloh, who passed away from a rare heart cancer in 2021.
Because Figures of Speech was in the works for years, Sargent said: “It is, in fact, not at all in that way a memorial, right? It really is a show by a living artist.”
The designer also worked with automobile manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, for which he designed a vehicle that incorporates solar power.
The photography is by Danny Perez, Brooklyn Museum
Figures of Speech will be on show at Brooklyn Museum until 29 January 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
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Writer and editor Antwaun Sargent guest curated the exhibition, which opens to the public Friday, and artists Ian Isiah, Venus X, and Hood By Air founder Shayne Oliver performed at the event ahead of the opening.
The Figures of Speech exhibition has been traveling since its opening in 2019, starting in Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art, running almost concurrently with Louis Vuittons mens pop-up shop in Chicagos West Loop during Ablohs tenure as artistic director of the luxury label. After Chicago, the exhibit traveled to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and Garage Gallery at the Fire Station in Qatar. The literary version of Figures of Speech won the 2019 AIGAs 50 Books Award as well.
The Brooklyn Museum retrospective, originally organized by Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf chief curator, chronicles elements of Ablohs life, career, creative ethos and pursuits, including his first fashion label, Pyrex Vision, his many sneaker collaborations with Nike and Jordan, and artwork and sculptures that encapsulate consistencies and codes prevalent through all of Ablohs works like the quotation marks hed use around seemingly obvious text that turned the wearers into literal figures of speech. This played out most often in Ablohs Off-White, the brand he founded in 2013.
But the Brooklyn stop varies from the previous iterations of the exhibit.
The exhibit runs from Friday, July 1 through Jan. 29, 2023.
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Inside The Virgil Abloh: Figures Of Speech Exhibit At The Brooklyn Museum
A new exhibit has opened at the Brooklyn Museum to honor the work, life, and legacy of Virgil Abloh.
Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech takes a deep dive into the artist and designers sketches and designs. There are exclusive sketches from his time at Off-White and Louis Vuitton Mens from the past 20 years. Work from Ablohs high school architecture assignments and college sketchbooks are also parts of the exhibit.
The exhibit is developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and features collaborations with Takashi Murakami, Kanye West, architect Rem Koolhaas and more.
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“The work is designed with the promise and principles of what the artist David Hammons once termed ‘negritude architecture,’ which he defined as ‘the way Black people make things, houses or magazine stands in Harlem, for instance,'” the museum said.
“Abloh considered the sculpture a representation of Black space, a living monument that holds the potential, through the exchange of ideas, to inspire the creation of more Black space,” it added.
Though the exhibition is divided conceptually between Abloh’s work in design, fashion and architecture, many of the objects are arrayed together.
Sargent said that this approach was meant to express Abloh’s attempts to break down divisions and hierarchies in the creative industries.
“I think, fundamentally, what Virgil was about was the breaking down of hierarchies in the creative disciplines to make sure that there were folks who had access that hadn’t previously had access to different forms of making,” said Sargent.
At the entrance to the exhibition are a few long tables, designed by Abloh, that display early sketches and works in architecture alongside fashion design prototypes and Abloh’s forays into sound system design through his collaboration with consumer company Braun.
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