“Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech” features a collection of drawings, designs, and installations, spanning the designer’s last two decades of work. Developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, it includes collaborations with artist Takashi Murakami, musician Kanye West and more.

Credit: The Cut

Writer and curator Antwaun Sargent guides us to the Brooklyn Museum for the display. The experience guides visitors on a journey through Virgil Abloh’s life – from his early days as a graphics-obsessed Chicago suburbian (he famously mused, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself”) to his rise as an innovative, top fashion designer.

In chronological order, visitors can witness a display of Abloh’s rise to prominence. There are life-size sculptures, noteworthy outfits from his oeuvre, and prior runway shows projected into the building’s towering walls as you make your way around the exhibit. SOCIAL SCULPTURE, Abloh’s last architectural endeavour, stands in the heart of it all. But don’t refer to this as a look back. Think of it as a “major survey of an artist’s work,” according to Sargent.

Revolutionising the Arts

As an artist and designer, Abloh revolutionised the way we think about fashion, art, design, and music in today’s society. This is the first museum exhibition of Virgil Abloh’s work and spans two decades of his practice, including collaborations with other artists, musicians, and architects, as well as items from his fashion label Off-White and Louis Vuitton, where he served as the first Black artistic director of menswear for the brand.

Credit: Brooklyn Museum

Never-before-seen items from the artist’s archive come to life throughout the exhibition.  A “social sculpture” that relies on Abloh’s architectural expertise, is also included in the Brooklyn Museum’s display.

“Like Abloh, the exhibit defies convention.”


The overall collection challenges the historical paucity of space given to black artists – and black people in cultural institutions.

A publication, “Figures of Speech”, is also available for purchase at the Brooklyn Museum. It chronicles Abloh’s quest to understand the expressive potential of design. As a result of his use of words, his designs and the people who connect with them become literal figures of speech. Dismantling typically white-crafted structures in fashion, design, architecture, and art, the artist employs the Black gaze to reimagine new works through the prism of the Black cultural experience.

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