Virgil Abloh Teams Up With the Louvre to Create a Leonardo da Vinci Collection, Continuing His Quest for Art-World Domination
The designer wants to make a point "that any place, no matter how exclusive it seems, is accessible to everyone."
Silk ties, heavy scholarly tomes, and postcards are standard museum shop fare for blockbuster exhibitions. At the Louvre, where a current solo exhibition devoted to original Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, the retail inventory includes Da Vinci-themed cake dishes, Vitruvian Man earrings, and kits for making miniature models of his outlandish inventions (such as a self-propelling cart, catapult, and flying machine ornithopter).
As of today, the Louvre gift shop will also stock a capsule collection of t-shirts and hoodies custom-designed by multihyphenate creative powerhouse Virgil Abloh. The line is a collaboration between Abloh’s luxury ready-to-wear label, Off-White, and the Musée du Louvre, and incorporates graphic mash-ups of Da Vinci paintings with the Off-White brand logo.
Abloh first became fascinated with Da Vinci during his senior year art class in college. “I was super interested not only by his artworks but also by the influence he had in many disciplines besides art: science, engineering, architecture,” he said in a statement.
The same could be said of Abloh himself, whose flurry of activity over the past couple of years has touched a broad swatch of disciplines and, in many cases, overlapped with both the revered Renaissance artist and the Parisian museum. Abloh incorporated graphic images of the Mona Lisa into shirts and iPhone cases for Off-White’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection, and presented an Off-White collection beneath the Louvre during Paris Fashion Week in January of this year. Last month he released a houseware collection designed in collaboration with IKEA, which notably includes a $99 lightbox of the Mona Lisa (it’s twice the size of the original, and fitted with a USB port so that La Gioconde can charge your phone).
“We are thrilled to see how the palace and museum collections have inspired Virgil Abloh,” said Adel Ziane, director of external relations at the Louvre. “Our collaboration with Off-White and this multitalented artist also gives us the opportunity to reach out to a new audience and encourage them to take interest in the Louvre.”
Abloh’s collection—photographed inside the Louvre’s Grande Galerie—comes a year and a half after the release of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s viral music video, Apes**t, also filmed at the Louvre. The clip challenged notions of who has traditionally belonged at the hallowed institution, and included scenes of the musical couple in front of the Da Vinci painting for which the Louvre is known best—the Mona Lisa. Apes**t caused the museum’s attendance numbers to surge, bringing new visitors to its galleries.
“It’s a crucial part of my overall body of work to prove that any place, no matter how exclusive it seems, is accessible to everyone,” says Abloh. “That you can be interested in expressing yourself through more than one practice and that creativity does not have to be tied to just one discipline.”
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