Glenn Ligon - Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale New York Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
    Sale: Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, New Museum Benefit Auction, November 15, 2007, lot 3
    Yvon Lambert, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Through his clever exploration of social erudition, Glenn Ligon provides audiences with an incisive body of work that combines the aesthetic merit of process painting with the cerebral aspects of conceptual art. The artist has dedicated his prolific practice to creating sonorous works that explore issues surrounding race, language, and identity. Exemplied here in Silver Just Us #5, 2006, Ligon incorporates appropriated literary fragments into his paintings by stenciling charged jokes, excerpts and other resonant passages directly onto the canvas. The text’s primary goal is to formulate language into a tangible apparatus, one on which formal concerns of picture making can be fore-grounded.

    Testament to the artist’s indelible importance, President Barack Obama had Ligon’s Black Like Me No. 2, 1992, installed in his private family quarters, solidifying the artist’s significance to this historic era of race relations in America. Along with this distinction, the artist was recently presented with a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As conveyed by journalist Carly Berwick, “One of the most mysterious and magnetic qualities of his work is its capacity to be endlessly reread, its interpretation changing continually over time. This is very different from merely reflecting the era in which it was made. The voices in Ligon’s work sustain disagreement and argue gracefully among themselves. They make virtue of uncertainty.” (C. Berwick, “Stranger in America”, Art in America, 2011)

  • Artist Biography

    Glenn Ligon

    American • 1960

    Glenn Ligon gained prominence in the early 1990s as a pioneering artist whose incisive work exploring of the contemporary American experience utilized the methods and legacies of modern painting and conceptual art. Embracing an intertextual approach, Ligon incorporates works from the arts, literature, history, and his own life to investigate American society and its inequities. Though he began his career as an abstract painter, he began incorporating text into his work in the mid-1980s to better articulate his political concerns and his ideas about racial identity and experience. He samples writing from famed Black writers including James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison, among other authors. 

    Ligon’s body of work includes painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, and neon art, but he is most widely associated with his text-based paintings. He is also notable for conceptualizing the term “Post-Blackness,” with Thelma Golden, describing it as “the liberating value in tossing off the immense burden of race-wide representation, the idea that everything they do must speak too for or about the entire race.” His work is held in notable museum collections around the world.

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Silver Just Us #5

oilstick and acrylic on canvas
32 x 32 in. (81.3 x 81.3 cm)
Signed, titled, and dated “Glenn Ligon 2006 Silver Just Us” along the overlap; further signed “Glenn Ligon” on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $242,500

Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

7 March 2013
New York