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Renowned artist Virgil Abloh passes away at 41


The American artist and designer fought a secret battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer after he was diagnosed in 2019. 

American artist Virgil Abloh, who was the chief creative director and founder of Off-White, as well as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, has passed away at 41.

Abloh died on Sunday in Chicago after a battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form cancer. The artist was diagnosed in 2019, fighting the disease away from the public eye.

His death was confirmed by his family on his personal Instagram account and sent shockwaves in the fashion and design industry.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend. He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues,” said the announcement on his Instagram.

“He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture,” the statement added.

Abloh birthed several note-worthy collaborations under his brand Off-White, working with Nike, Ikea, Moncler, and Jimmy Choo to name a few.

His expansive approach to design began with fashion in 2012, stepping away from his training as an architect.

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He studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Abloh became a massive figure of influence in rap music, designing album covers for Kanye West and Jay-Z’s album Watch the Throne, as well as Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy among others and covers for Pop Smoke and Lil Uzi Vert.

In 2013, Abloh founded his stand-alone fashion brand Off-White in Milan, Italy, and in 2018 he assumed the position of Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton.

The designer may have arguably been the most influential individual in the cultivation of hypebeast culture and streetwear, creating a hybrid style that combined the structure and discipline of luxury fashion and the edge of street style. His famous “quotation” trademark displayed the meta nature of his work, using art as a means of commentary and philosophy.

“Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” said Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in a statement.

In July, Abloh had been promoted to a new position within LVMH that would’ve given him access to work across the luxury group’s 75 brands, making him the most powerful Black executive in the most powerful luxury group in the world.

In early November, Qatar Museums (QM) presented a mid-career retrospective of the acclaimed American artist and designer at the Fire Station.

The “Figures of Speech” exhibition showcased Abloh inspiration by the urban culture of Chicago at an early age.

QM’s Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani mourned the artist’s death on her Instagram.

“The world has lost a creative genius. Virgil Abloh was in Doha only two weeks ago to open his latest exhibtion, Figures of Speech @dohafirestation. His generosity, kindness, innovation and appeal are only a few words I can use to describe the visual memory I will always keep of him.

“A boy from Ghana who conquered the world of creativity through his interdisciplinary approach — pushing innovation to newest levels. He gave so much to myself, the community that words cannot describe his kindness. So many incomplete conversations and many happy memories to cherish. It was a privilege to know him and interact with his mind. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. May his soul Rest In Peace,” said QM’s head.

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