Home Art shop The Brooklyn Museum presents a NYC-centric take on global contemporary polymath Virgil Abloh

The Brooklyn Museum presents a NYC-centric take on global contemporary polymath Virgil Abloh


Meaningful cross-pollination of visual arts, music, architecture and fashion usually involves direct collaboration between interdisciplinary experts. The late contemporary polymath Virgil Abloh has collaborated with a wide range of masters, but his own work is a singular triumph that defies boundaries and categorization.

Virgil Abloh: Figures of speech at the Brooklyn Museum is a fungible journey through the pioneering designer’s prolific career, which ended abruptly with his death from cancer at the age of 41 on November 28, 2021.

On view through Jan. 29, 2023, the exhibit, originally curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, features items from Abloh’s Off-White fashion brand, creations from Louis Vuitton, where he became the first black man to serve as artistic director of menswear at the multibillion-dollar French luxury giant, and a selection of his countless collaborations with artist Takashi Murakami, musician Kanye West and the architect Rem Koolhaas.

I was lucky enough to check out an iteration of the exhibit a few days before his death at the fire station in Doha, Qatar, during a press trip for QatarCreates. Viewing Abloh’s diverse achievements across multiple rooms and floors of the repurposed space was a highlight of the cultural celebration intersecting art, fashion and design, through a wide range of exhibits, awards, public lectures and special events in the capital and the most populous city. of Qatar, located on the coast of the Persian Gulf.

Unique to the Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Abloh’s “social sculpture,” focused in the central atrium of the Museum’s Great Hall, underscores his training as an architect. Architectural elements abound throughout Abloh’s career in subtle and overt ways, such as the structure of the black and white striped dress he custom-made for Beyoncé in September 2018. vogue cover, his foam and plexiglass master’s thesis building from the Illinois Institute of Technology, his bold Nike prototypes, and the typeface he uses to inscribe messages on merchandise like “All Your Leaders Get Persecuted” .

The “social sculpture” welcomes visitors for gatherings and performances, and takes us back to its academic roots, its creative multiverse and its heritage. As we explore inner space within an inner space, we are reminded that Abloh strove to break down physical, racial, and social barriers. Working within Louis Vuitton, he shaped the look of a brand that is best known for its ubiquitous LV monogrammed handbags and accessories, subverting its static styles and colors. While she has raised Abloh’s profile, her contribution to Louis Vuitton is unquestionably a bigger win for the LVMH subsidiary, which posted sales of 64.2 billion euros in 2021.

The Brooklyn Museum exhibit also explores Abloh’s relationship with New York City, where he worked as a guest designer for black fashion innovator Shayne Oliver’s Hood By Air label, and became a member of the collective A$AP Mob of rapper A$AP Rocky. Emerging and rising to fame in Chicago, where he burst into international fashion alongside Kanye West during their internship at Fendi in 2009, Abloh’s influence and interactions on street fashion and hip-hop never are not related to geography.

A tribute to and extension of Abloh’s craftsmanship and business prowess, the exhibit includes a boutique, Church & State, selling apparel and accessories that Abloh conceptualized Abloh designed in 2019 exclusively for the Brooklyn Museum.

Virgil Abloh: Figures of speech is curated by Michael Darling, former Chief Curator James W. Alsdorf, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is curated by writer and curator Antwaun Sargent.