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Virgil Abloh. Photo by Katrina Wittkamp.

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Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech

Chicago Designer is Showcased at the High Through March 8

Article by Erikka Searles Mitchell

Photography by Provided

Originally published in SOFU Lifestyle

Virgil Abloh's Instagram page is a gallery walk all on it's own. He's the modern artist's modern artist. The designer has varied interests, having trained for architecture and making a name for himself by designing clothes and selling Supreme t-shirts. Collaborations with corporations from Nike to Ikea and then working with Kanye have made Abloh a household name or at least a wunderkind of the art world.  Abloh's first museum exhibition, now at the High is eclectic. There are conceptual pieces alongside racks of fashion. At the risk of sounding cliche, this is a show that you must immerse yourself in to understand and even then there's lots of room for interpretation. "Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech" is culture. Go see it before it leaves Atlanta in May. --ESM

Facts About the Exhibition

“Figures of Speech” is the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of Virgil Abloh, the genre-bending artist and designer who became creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line in 2018.

• The exhibition focuses on Abloh’s creative process, collaborative work and pioneering discipline, which ranges across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers and architects.

• This unprecedented survey of Abloh’s work over more than two decades pulls pack the curtain on his creative process and offers an in-depth look at the defining highlights of his career, including his recent designs for the Louis Vuitton menswear collection, video documentation of his most iconic fashion shows and his distinctive furniture and graphic design work.

• “Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’” is organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where it was on view from June to September 2019.

• This exhibition is designed by Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA.

• Kevin Tucker is the presenting curator for the High. Key sections of the exhibition include:

• Abloh’s graphic, music and design work for Kanye West’s creative content company Donda, including his collaborations with West and Jay-Z

• Selections from his Off-White™ fashion line, including designs for women and men from 2015 to the present that embody the essence of urban streetwear

• Examples of his furniture designs in gridded metal and other industrial materials

• Collaborative works realized with artists Jenny Holzer, Arthur Jafa and Ari Marcopoulos

• Designs for manufacturers, including shoes and Serena Williams’ “Queen” dress for Nike, prototypes for a 2019 line of furnishings for IKEA and recent works from his tenure as creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear.

About Abloh:

•Abloh was raised outside of Chicago by parents who emigrated from Ghana and cultivated an interest in music, fashion and design at an early age.

• While pursuing a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Abloh connected with then-emerging Kanye West, joining a creative team to work on album covers, concert designs and merchandising.

• Abloh applied the experience he gained working with West to his own stand-alone fashion brand, Off-White™, which he established in Milan, Italy, and presented at the seasonal shows of Paris Fashion Week alongside luminaries of the high fashion world.

Related Program 

Curator Talk: Michael Darling Feb. 13, 2020, at 7 p.m. Rich Theatre Join Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, for a special in-depth look at “Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’.” Abloh’s artistic endeavors encompass fashion, architecture, music and design. This talk examines how Abloh navigated his groundbreaking ascent into the exclusive world of high fashion as well exploring his unconventional approach to design. The exhibition will be open for guests immediately following the program. Seating is limited. Please reserve your tickets in advance. Free with Museum admission ($14.50); Free for members.

Exhibition Organization and Support

“Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’” is organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibition tour is made possible by Kenneth C. Griffin. This exhibition is made possible by Premier Exhibition Series Sponsors Delta Air Lines, Inc. and Invesco; Exhibition Series Sponsors Northside Hospital and WarnerMedia; Premier Exhibition Series Supporters the Antinori Foundation, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot, and wish foundation; Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporter Anne Cox Chambers Foundation; Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters Tom and Susan Wardell, and Rod Westmoreland; and Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters Lucinda W. Bunnen, Marcia and John Donnell, W. Daniel Ebersole and Sarah Eby-Ebersole, Peggy Foreman, Robin and Hilton Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones, Margot and Danny McCaul, Joel Knox and Joan Marmo, and The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust. Generous support is also provided by the Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.

  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • IKEA X Virgil Abloh. Photo courtesy of IKEA.
  • Virgil Abloh. Photo by Katrina Wittkamp.
  • Off-White™ c/o Virgil Abloh, Autumn/Winter 2014, Summer/Spring 2014; Courtesy of OffWhite™ c/o Virgil Abloh. Photo: Enrico Ranzato.