Virgil Abloh exhibition slated for the High Museum

Featured image: Virgil Abloh, Still from, “A Team with No Sport,” 2012.

July 9, 2019

Starting in November, the High Museum of Art will present Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’, the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the artist and designer who became creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line in 2018.

Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where it debuted in June, the exhibition focuses on Abloh’s creative process and collaborative work, which ranges across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers, and architects. The works on view will offer an in-depth look at the defining highlights of Abloh’s 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, Color Gradient Chair, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.
Virgil Abloh. Photo: Fabien Montique. Courtesy the artists.

Raised outside of Chicago by parents who emigrated from Ghana, Abloh trained in engineering and architecture and from an early age cultivated an interest in music, fashion, and design. While pursuing a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he connected with then-emerging Kanye West, joining a fledgling creative team to work on album covers, concert designs, and merchandising.

Virgil Abloh, Watch the Throne Album Press Plate, 2011. Brass plate in plastic frame; plate: 4 15/16 × 5 5/8 in. Framed: 9 5/8 × 10 3/8 3 ½ in. Courtesy of the artist.

Abloh applied the experience he had gained working with West to his own stand-alone fashion brand, Off-White™, which he established in Milan.

Virgil Abloh, Painting (Cotton), 2018. Acrylic on canvas; approximately 72 × 96 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Abloh takes an approach to fashion that is prompted by contemporary art, his architectural training, and the world of music. His inspiration began with streetwear in urban centers like Chicago, where looks emerged spontaneously and organically.

Off-White for Nike, Nike React Hyperdunk, 2017. Line: “The Ten.” Courtesy the artist.

“Abloh’s designs reflect his keen perceptiveness of the world around him and his appreciation for and understanding of the pulse of popular culture in various media,” noted Kevin Tucker, the High’s chief curator. “That he is able to quickly distill these wide-ranging influences into his own distinctive approach is a testament to his abilities and fuels the international appeal of his work.”    

The exhibition will 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

–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

Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’ runs November 9, 2019, through March 8, 2020 at the High Museum.