The First Posthumous Retrospective Dedicated to Designer Virgil Abloh Will Go on View at the Brooklyn Museum This Summer

Two decades of work will be on view.

Virgil Abloh. Photo: Ivan Grianti.
Virgil Abloh. Photo: Ivan Grianti.

This summer, the Brooklyn Museum will stage a version of the first institutional survey dedicated to the late fashion designer and creative visionary Virgil Abloh. The show, titled “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech,” will build on an earlier exhibition of the same name that originated at the MCA Chicago in 2019, and then traveled to ICA Boston, the High Museum in Atlanta, and Qatar Museums.

Installation view, Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”, MCA Chicago. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Just two and a half months after the show opened in Abloh’s native Illinois, more than 100,000 visitors had already attended, and the exhibition dates were extended to accommodate interest. The Brooklyn Museum’s presentation is organized by writer and curator Antwaun Sargent and will be the first museum show since Abloh’s death, in November, at age 41.

Installation view "Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech" at MCA Chicago. © Nathan Keay, Courtesy of MCA Chicago

Installation view “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” at MCA Chicago. © Nathan Keay, Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Abloh earned a degree in civil engineering and trained as an architect before pivoting toward a career in the fashion world. In “Figures of Speech”—which was originally conceived as a mid-career survey, but is now a posthumous retrospective—Abloh’s prodigious output over the course of two decades is on display, showing how the designer frequently bridged the gaps between streetwear and high fashion.

There will be doors in the MCA exhibition with labels: one that says “Tourist” and the other “Purist,” both of which are ways Abloh described himself at different points in his career, taking in the sights as an outsider, and later gazing out at the empire he created.

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is on view at the Brooklyn Museum from July 1, 2022 through January 29, 2023.


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