A consummate multi-hyphenate, Virgil Abloh’s transversal practice spans music, graphic design, architecture, streetwear, and luxury. The first-ever museum survey of his work, “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech,” is now open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Abloh rose through the ranks as part of Kanye West’s creative agency team, working on album covers and merchandising. The splash he made in 2013 launching his own Milan-based label, Off-White, eventually became a turning of the tide when he was appointed Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton in 2018.

As Samir Banta, who designed the scenography of the exhibition, noted in the exhibition catalogue: “young people do not come to a museum anymore to just look at a Van Gogh. You have to provide something else.” (Samples of "something else" provided at the Abloh expo? A Louis Vuitton kite, an unreleased wood-and-metal cabinet prototype for Ikea, Yeezus album studies.) Michael Darling, chief curator of the MCA, understands that the museum experience has changed. i-D spoke to him about addressing this new type of museum-goer, how to showcase cross-disciplinary work, and the power of the black gaze.

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