Since the beginning of his career, the multidisciplinary work of late visionary artist and designer Virgil Abloh (Rockford, Illinois, 1980–2021, Chicago, Illinois) has reshaped how we understand the role of fashion, art, design, and music in contemporary culture. Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech,” developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, is the first museum exhibition devoted to Abloh’s work. It spans two decades of his practice, including collaborations with artists Takashi Murakami and Arthur Jafa, and photographer Juergen Teller, among others; material from his fashion label Off-White; and items from Louis Vuitton, where he served as the first Black menswear artistic director.
Newly added for the Brooklyn Museum’s presentation are never-before-seen objects from the artist’s archive, as well as a “social sculpture,” which draws upon Abloh’s background in architecture. The installation offers a space for gathering and performances, and is designed to counter the historical lack of space afforded to Black artists and Black people in cultural institutions.
“Figures of Speech” traces Abloh’s exploration of the communicative power of design. His use of language and quotation marks turns his designs, and the people who engage with them, into literal figures of speech. The artist uses the Black gaze to dismantle the traditionally white-crafted structures at work in fashion, design, architecture, and art, reconstructing new work through the lens of the Black cultural experience.
A publication, published by DelMonico Books, was created for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s presentation of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” and will be available for purchase at the Brooklyn Museum.
In honoring Abloh’s vision, the Museum is making SOCIAL SCULPTURE available to community and organizational partners working with youth who may wish to make use of it. To request more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get the inside story from Abloh’s collaborators with our new digital guide.
Futura x Virgil Abloh
Last-Chance Member Hours: Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”
Art History Happy Hour: NFTs
Teen Night: “Art of Imagination”
Collaborating with Virgil Abloh: Samir Bantal
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is organized by Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is organized by writer and curator Antwaun Sargent.
Exhibition design for Brooklyn Museum is by Mahfuz Sultan, Creative Director, Clocks, in collaboration with Tawanda Chiweshe and Francisco Gaspar, Creative and Artistic Directors of ALASKA ALASKA, and Lance Singletary, Director of Exhibition Design, Brooklyn Museum. Exhibition design for previous iterations of “Figures of Speech” is by Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA.
The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibition tour is made possible by Kenneth C. Griffin.
Special thanks to Virgil Abloh Securities for their partnership.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by
Additional support is provided by
Generous support is provided by the Brooklyn Museum’s Contemporary Art Committee. Additional support is provided by the Norman M. Feinberg Exhibition Fund and the Kay Unger Family Foundation.
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