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Virgil Abloh, Alex Israel, Yoko Ono design face masks for Museum of Contemporary Art

As museums around the world continue to contend with the economic realities of the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is offering artist-designed face coverings to support its program.

The masks were designed by a selection of nine international artists and collectives, including Virgil Abloh, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Barbara Kruger, Yoko Ono and Catherine Opie.

face mask MOCA
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has collaborated with nine artists for a series of limited-edition face masks. Image: courtesy of MOCA via AFP Relaxnews

Pipilotti Rist, Hank Willis Thomas, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts have also contributed to the project, which is described as upholding “the museum’s commitment to making the experience of art accessible and encouraging the urgency of contemporary expression.”

Many of the masks were exclusively designed by participating artists for this project while others represent iconic works from their catalogue.

Alex Israel’s contribution, aptly titled “Mask for MOCA,” includes a pair of detachable pins representing a smiling avocado and a self-portrait of the Los Angeles-based multimedia artist.

Catherine Opie’s “Bo from Being and Having (detail)” mask uses photography to challenge gender as performance and social construct, as most of the American photographer’s oeuvre.


“Each artist saw [making masks] as a very serious opportunity to bring art into daily life, and to make it caring and protective, which is what I think the masks should be. Of course, it has to be a design that fits into the shape of the mask, but each artist found an interesting way for form to follow function,” MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach told Vogue of the project.

All MOCA masks were manufactured in Los Angeles and vary in fabric depending on the design. These coverings were designed to fit a wide range of faces comfortably and securely, including children over 10 years old.

The nine MOCA masks are available individually for $28 (over P1,300) via the museums’ webstore, although art-loving fashionistas can also purchase the entire limited-edition series for $280 (over P13,700).

“Being a responsible and caring citizen amongst citizens just became even more beautiful because of these artists’ contributions!” Biesenbach added in a statement.

In May, the Contemporary Art Society similarly invited four British contemporary artists to customize face coverings, as part of the “CAS Rapid Response Fund” crowdfunding campaign.


David Shrigley, Eddie Peake, Yinka Shonibare and Linder participated in the initiative, during which a set of all four face masks would be the reward for a donation of 120 pounds (around P7,600) to the CAS Rapid Response Fund. CL


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