The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is presenting an exhibition devoted to the work of the ultra-modern, genre-bending artist and designer Virgil Abloh. Titled “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” the immersive space has been curated by the Museum's Chief Curator Michael Darling, and Samir Bantal, a director at OMA’s research wing, focusing on the creative process and collaborative work of Abloh who is redefining fashion, art, and design.
The Chicago artist is pioneering a new creative discipline across a range of media, connecting visual artists, musicians, designers, and architects. The exhibition will cover seven areas of Abloh’s work over twenty years, focusing on different pillars of fashion, music, art, furniture, and graphic design.
The fashion section of the exhibition highlights Abloh’s work in deconstructionist, asymmetrical tailoring, playing with the idea of having an “off day” when things are not going according to plan. It also includes fine art references, incorporating a Caravaggio painting in his early Pyrex Vision line. His music section features a large-scale version of the album art for Kanye West’s Grammy-nominated sixth album Yeezus in 2013, reducing the packaging to only the necessary elements such as a single red sticker that kept the box closed.
The section covering architecture, furniture, painting, sculpture, and shoe design embraces many of the techniques used by modernist architect Mies van der Rohe: transparent materials, emphasis on function, and attention to detail. He also questions the use of images, structures, and materials in new ways, using techniques such as appropriation and wordplay in work such as Color Gradient Chair.
A literal pile of furniture prototypes displays the artist’s experiments in making modifications to familiar designs to give them new life. The also reinterprets the idea of luggage personalization in his collaboration with luggage brand Rimowa, while prototypes for rugs designed by IKEA in 2018 are also featured, reflecting his interest in wordplay and provoking viewers to question what they are seeing.
The final section presents recent works critiquing the influence of advertising and how the phrase “The End” is only a figure of speech. “Keep All” reimagines several Louis Vuitton’s signature products, including the classic Keepall bag that was originally released in 1930, with his new version adding heavy ceramic chain links that appear across the artist’s clothing and accessory designs.
The exhibition will run from June 10th to September 22nd, 2019.