View of “Rick Owens,” 2017–18.

View of “Rick Owens,” 2017–18.

Rick Owens

Triennale di Milano

View of “Rick Owens,” 2017–18.

“I would lay a black glittering turd on the white landscape of conformity,” Rick Owens wrote in the late 1990s. However bombastic this sounds, the next twenty years of the fashion and furniture designer’s career have broadly confirmed his intention. And now that the Triennale di Milano has celebrated him with a retrospective—no less sensationally titled “Subhuman Inhuman Superhuman,” presented by Eleonora Fiorani, the curator of its fashion department—the turd cited in Owens’s manifesto has found material form. In a gigantic sculpture/stage set, a black blob of sand, cement, and organic materials (including the artist’s own hair) twisted and turned, winding above and below the entire length of the exhibition path. Around and beneath the sculpture, Primal Howl, 2017, a crowd of mannequins flaunted some of the clothing for which Owens has gained a cult following. The

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