Virgil Abloh “Coming of Age” Louis Vuitton Foundation
“You know who I’m most inspired by?” asked the late Virgil Abloh, “This kid who hasn’t had a chance to pitch his brand yet. These kids inspire the work I do every day. is my muse: the next generation, and I want my work to inspire people like them.
Among his groundbreaking creative endeavours, one of Abloh’s greatest strengths is empowering others. Born and raised in Chicago to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh understood the importance of access and information. He would instill this uplifting philosophy in each of his projects, collections and exhibitions, such as the 2019 group show “Coming of Age” at the Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles.
The show centered on the concept, diversities and complexities of male youth and childhood – crossing class, race, social economy, subcultures, isolation and camaraderie. Emblematic of his career, Abloh encouraged students, artists and local communities to access a DIY Copy Center, where they could build and create their own zines from their favorite works from the exhibit.
In a melancholic yet uplifting tribute, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is currently presenting an updated version of “Coming of Age” at its Frank Gehry-designed institution located just a few stops from Paris. For those who haven’t been to the space, it’s really special. “Great work of architecture expresses feeling,” Gehry commented of the institution. That sentiment certainly extends to Abloh’s “Coming of Age,” where the show feels more like a series of moods and aspirations than an exposition.
Upon entering the space, visitors are mesmerized by a huge wall of LED screens showcasing the work of Abloh and the global audience he sought to empower. Much of the artwork and zines created from past exhibitions are displayed in the adjoining rooms, from hanging wall art to film screenings and interactive installations.
On the outdoor terrace, several monitors are set up with accompanying headsets where the public can listen to past talks given by Abloh, as well as music videos that inspired the artist. The exhibition extends to a series of billboard-sized portraits by artist Julian Klincewicz titled “41 Childhood Portraits” which documents the range of individuals depicted by Abloh during his first season as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection.
With youth at the heart of the exhibit, there’s an inviting castle-shaped red moon bounce that Abloh and PLAYLAB have created floating over the cascading fountain just outside the museum. It’s only fitting that visitors of all ages can be seen happily interacting with the installation, reinforcing the youthful spirit that summed up Abloh’s prolific career. “Coming of Age” is currently on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton until April 27, 2022.
In other art news, a major Matisse exhibition will be dedicated to the artist’s work from the 1930s.
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