Written by: Alison Dyer, Senior Designer
Virgil Abloh’s passing last November was an insurmountable blow to the art and design world, losing such a prominent figure at what seemed in many ways the very height of his career. From creating some of the most sought after sneakers, to turning the process of production into a finished work of fashion and changing our relationship with quotation marks, in many ways Abloh was only just getting started with his work. Chronicling his legacy in-depth, the Brooklyn Museum’s “Figures of Speech” exhibit follows Abloh’s incredible influence from fashion and fine art to architecture and graphic design.
Despite chronicling the life and work of a designer who passed too soon, the exhibition does not take on a mournful tone, instead embodying a powerful and celebratory attitude throughout the exhibition that champions rising against the odds.
Those viewing the exhibit from a graphic design background will likely be compelled by one of the smallest displays in the exhibit, which is the cover of Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Watch the Throne.” Created in partnership with fashion designer Riccardo Tisci, the album cover perfectly translates the kaleidoscopic designs of Tisci into an intricate sculptural object. The piece effortlessly combines each designer’s styles, bringing together the simplified and architectural approach of Abloh with the detailed and interwoven qualities of Tisci’s into easily one of Kanye and Jay-Z’s most iconic album covers.
The largest piece in the exhibition is a testament to the lasting legacy and uplifting message of Abloh’s work. Called “Social Sculpture,” the piece is a full-scale house with a sound system designed by audio artist Devon Turnbull. Intended as a community space for gathering and celebration. The piece has been hosting talks and performances through the exhibition’s tenure at the museum.
In spite of Abloh’s passing, “Figures of Speech” does an impeccable job of not only preserving Abloh’s lasting legacy but creating a space that can inspire generations of creatives to come.