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Fondation Louis Vuitton Unveils Virgil Abloh's "Coming of Age"

A melancholic and uplifting exhibition that captures the essence of Abloh’s prolific career.

“You know who I am most inspired by?,” the late-Virgil Abloh once asked, “That kid that hasn’t had the chance to showcase their brand yet. Those kids motivate the work I do every day. That’s the muse for me: the next generation. And I want my work to inspire people like them.”

Amongst his groundbreaking creative endeavors, one of Abloh’s greatest strengths came in the empowerment of others. Born and raised in Chicago to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh understood the importance of access and information. He would instill this uplifting ethos into each of his projects, collections and exhibitions, such as the 2019 group show “Coming of Age” at Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles.

The show centered around the concept, diversities and complexities of male youth and boyhood – traversing class, race, social economics, subcultures, isolation, and camaraderie. Emblematic of his career, Abloh encouraged students, artists and local communities access to a DIY copy center, where they could build and create their own zines from their favorite artworks from the exhibition.

In a melancholic but uplifting tribute, Fondation Louis Vuitton is currently showcasing an updated iteration of “Coming of Age” at its Frank Gehry-designed institution located just a few stops outside of Paris. For those who have not attended the space, it is truly special. “The great work of architecture expresses feeling,” Gehry commented when speaking on the institution. This sentiment certainly extends to Abloh’s “Coming of Age”, where the show feels more like walking into a series of moods and aspirations, rather than an exhibition.

Upon entering the space, visitors are entranced by a massive wall of LED screens showcasing work from both Abloh and the global audience he sought to empower. Much of the artwork and zines created from past shows are on view in the adjoining halls, from hanging wall art to film screenings and interactive installations.

On the outdoor terrace, several monitors are set up with accompanying headsets where audiences can listen to past lectures given by Abloh, along with music videos that inspired the artist. The exhibition extends to a series of billboard-sized portraits made by artist Julian Klincewicz titled “41 portraits of boyhood” which documented the array of individuals Abloh represented in his first season as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection.

With youth at the core of the exhibition, there is an inviting red moon bounce shaped like a castle that Abloh and PLAYLAB created that sits floating on the cascading fountain just outside the museum. It’s fitting that visitors of all ages can be seen joyfully interacting with the installation, reinforcing the youthful spirit that encapsulated Abloh’s prolific career. “Coming of Age” is currently on view at Foundation Louis Vuitton until April 27, 2022.

In other art news, a major Matisse exhibition will focus on the artist’s work from the 1930s.

Fondation Louis Vuitton
8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi,
75016 Paris

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