There’s a lot going on at Louis Vuitton: the French luxury fashion house has not only published a book about its artistic director Virgil Abloh, who passed away on November 28 last year, but is also opening a photo exhibition by the South African artists Zanele tomorrow at the Espace Louis Vuitton in Munich Muholi and David Goldblatt.
Part of the Louis Vuitton Foundation’s “Hors-les-murs” program, the “From South Africa” exhibition combines Goldblatt’s series of colorful landscape photographs with Muholi’s portraits of black, gay, transgender and non-gendered people.
While Goldblatt’s landscapes capture the South African people’s complex relationship with their land and explore the importance of structure – Goldblatt’s term for architecture – in the wake of a new post-apartheid national consciousness, Muholi captures the realities of life of LGBTQIA+ people from an inner perspective, um to create an intimate, uncompromising and truthful work about the everyday life of this marginalized community.
In addition, the exhibition features works from Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama series, in which they appear in self-portraits to capture the stereotypes about Africa and femininity, and to reverse and reject clichés and archetypes related to one’s situation.
Goldblatt founded the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg in 1989 to promote the education of young photographers who were marginalized by the country’s system at the time. In 2001, Zanele Muholi enrolled to study photography and became a mentee of Goldblatt. The two maintained a close personal relationship until his death in 2018.
Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh
The fashion house’s new book, Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh, pays tribute to Virgil Abloh’s appointment as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection in June 2018 and to himself. As the first African American to hold the position, it was both a moment and a movement the starting point for a new era of luxury characterized by inclusivity, diversity and empowerment.
Written by Abloh’s close collaborator Anders Christian Madsen, the book offers an intimate, insider’s portrait of a man born to push boundaries on and off the runway. It is divided into eight chapters according to the Louis Vuitton menswear collections and runway shows staged by Abloh and also features the designer’s complete sneaker catalogue.
“‘Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh’ immerses readers in a unique, kite-flying, rainbow-hued world filled with cultural references and narratives, from the Wizard of Oz and James Baldwin to ’90s hip-hop style and a stunning 1969 drum solo” , promises the fashion house in a statement.
In addition to more than 320 photos and personal reflections from Virgil’s inner circle, including Nigo, Naomi Campbell, Luka Sabbat, Kendall Jenner and Kid Cudi, the book also allows the designer himself to have his say through many quotations – so-called “Abloh-isms”.
The book was published by New York’s Assouline Verlag and was brought out by them and Louis Vuitton with two collector’s covers. The price is $1,200.