A Kaleidoscopic Show Organized by Fashion Designer Duro Olowu Looks at the People, Culture, and Art of Chicago. See It Here

While museums are closed to the public, we are spotlighting an inspiring exhibition somewhere around the globe each day.

Installation view,
Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

While museums around the globe are closed to the public, we are spotlighting each day an inspiring exhibition that was previously on view. Even if you can’t see it in person, allow us to give you a virtual look. 

 

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

What the museum says: “Nigerian-born British designer Duro Olowu is internationally recognized for his womenswear label, launched in 2004. Characterized by unique fabrics, evocative patterns, and impeccable construction, the London-based designer’s garments are informed by his international background and curator’s eye. Olowu’s multinational and multicultural viewpoint has translated into wildly popular platforms and projects from his dynamic Instagram account to his revelatory curatorial projects in London and New York.

“Now Olowu turns his cosmopolitan eye to Chicago. Drawing from the city’s public and private art collections, including works in the MCA’s collection, Olowu curates a show that reimagines relationships between artists and objects across time, media, and geography. Moving away from traditional exhibition formats, Olowu combines photographs, paintings, sculptures, and films in dense and textural scenes that incorporate his own work.”

Why it’s worth a look: It could be a total disaster to invite a fashion designer into a museum and allow him free rein to act as a curator. But when it works, it can be brilliant.

That’s the case in this show, in which the Nigerian-born aesthete Duro Olowu took over the MCA’s galleries to organize a show based on the city of Chicago, its people, artists, and inspirations, which are all given equal footing. With a keen understanding of style, form, color, and pattern, Olowu was able to create a menagerie of beautiful objects and images (which is how he sets up his boutique stores in London, too). In an interview with Thelma Golden (who is also his wife) published in the show’s catalogue, Olowu laughs describing the bricolage of his working space as “Mariano Fortuny next to an antique Yoruba textile next to a Madame Grès jacket with some Fela Kuti records and a Hurvin Anderson drawing.”

A new digital initiative, launched today, presents viewers with a 360-degree tour of the galleries and audio interviews and clips featuring Olowu, MCA curators, and other contributors to the show.

What it looks like:

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, "Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago," 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, “Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago,” 2020. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.


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