One of his greatest strengths came to form in the empowerment of others through his most groundbreaking creative endeavors. Abloh, who was born and raised in Chicago to Ghanaian immigrant parents, understood the value of information and access. In each of his initiatives, collections, and exhibits, such as the 2019 group show “Coming of Age” at Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles, he would invoke this uplifting spirit.
The notion, diversity, and intricacies of male childhood and boyhood—transcending class, race, social economy, subcultures, solitude, and companionship—were central to the performance. Students, artists, and local communities were given access to a DIY copy center, where they could make zines of their favorite artworks from the exhibition, which were emblematic of Abloh’s career.
The Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibited an updated version of “Coming of Age” at its Frank Gehry-designed institution just a few stops outside of Paris, in a melancholy yet inspiring tribute. It was truly unique, for those who didn’t get to experience it. When commenting about the institution, Gehry said, “The great work of architecture expresses feelings.” This notion is echoed in Virgil Abloh’s “Coming of Age,” which feels more like a journey through a variety of moods and aspirations than a show.
Visitors were immediately captivated by a giant wall of LED screens displaying work by both Abloh and the global audience he aimed to empower. From hanging wall art to film screenings and interactive installations, much of the artwork and zines created for previous events are on display in the adjoining halls.
On the outdoor terrace, many monitors with matching headsets were put up so that attendees could listen to earlier Abloh lectures, as well as music videos that influenced the artist. The exhibition also included a series of billboard-sized portraits by artist Julian Klincewicz titled “41 portraits of boyhood,” which captured Abloh’s first season as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection.
With youth at the center of the show, Abloh and PLAYLAB designed a welcoming red moon bounce styled like a castle that floats on the cascading fountain just outside the museum. It’s natural that people of all ages were seen happily interacting with the exhibit, reinforcing Abloh’s illustrious career’s young attitude.
In other news, auctions winners have already received their Virgil Abloh-designed Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1.
Photos via Louis Vuitton