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Behind the Exhibit: Murakami Meets Abloh at Gagosian

Kanye West’s artsiest friends serve up a social media-friendly exhibit at Gagosian London

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This week, Gagosian unveiled what could only be described as an orgy of “clout”—that new slang for a blend of style and influence—with a collaborative exhibit from Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh. Combining art, streetwear and a dash of social media catnip, the collaboration yielded a series of paintings and a limited edition t-shirt, seamlessly integrating Murakami and Abloh’s most iconic trademarks.

Though they may come from either side of the art/fashion divide, Murakami and Abloh’s collision seemed inevitable given their mutual connection to Kanye West, pied piper of clout. Abloh served as the rapper’s creative director and Murakami designed the cover of his 2007 album Graduation, and both went on to numerous museum-quality collaborations (see: Murakami’s seminal Louis Vuitton bags and Abloh’s recent MoMA x Nike sneakers).

While only a matter of time, it wasn’t until the two branding wizards bumped into each other at ComplexCon, the nation’s foremost hype summit, that the iconic duo officially joined forces. Abloh then traveled to Murakami’s Tokyo studio, where the two produced Glance past the future (2018), a transposition of 17th century sculptor Bernini onto Murakami’s Mr. DOB character, as well as three works in progress incorporating Abloh’s Off-White logo.

While the commemorative t-shirts, which depict Glance past the future, sold out in a matter of hours, sneakerheads and art patrons alike can experience the buzz firsthand at Gagosian London until April 7.

Main image: Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh, “Glance past the future”, 2018, Acrylic on canvas mounted on aluminum frame,  ©︎ Virgil Abloh ©︎ Takashi Murakami