Glenn Ligon - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, May 16, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco
    D'Amelio Terras, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Anselm Reyle has incorporated nearly every categorical style into his uncategorizable oeuvre. Drawing inspiration from early abstract art, Reyle redirects the impulses of
    the expressionist into the third dimension, employing a variety of found and common household materials as his mediums. Reyle’s most celebrated works are undoubtedly his series of “foil paintings”, such as the present lot, in which he employs the use of acrylics and foil to maximize the viewer’s desire for a tactile experience while denying them any satisfaction. Suspended in their Plexiglas boxes, his foil paintings force the observer to come to terms with the painting as an isolated object, forbidden to touch. Generating this sense of longing in the viewer, Reyle brings to mind our attraction to the kitsch of shine and our necessary inhibition to its seductive power if we are to maintain the progression of art. It is a perfect marriage of simple materials and lofty ideals.

    The present lot, Reyle’s Untitled from 2006, takes the familiar form of his foil paintings. Untitled towers almost ten feet in front of the observer, a goliath study in our tactile impulses. Trapped within the seven-inch thick box, his PVC foil is observable from all angles for the viewer’s maximum enticement, yet guarded by its Plexiglas enclosure. The canvas on which Reyle mounts his work functions simultaneously as a surface and a foundational structure, similar to the collage-style works of Reyle’s predecessors Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. But Reyle also adds a fourth dimension to his work, detailing various recessions within the PVC foil with black acrylic. In doing so, the viewer finds difficulty in differentiating the negative space of Reyle’s black paint from the reflective surfaces of his sculpture. The occasional sharp corners of the foil alternate with smooth curvatures elsewhere, begetting a surface pattern that resembles the drapery work of the past two millennia. Anselm Reyle’s work is as pleasurable for the eyes as it is frustrating for our outstretched fingers; a modern masterpiece that both attracts and rebukes us.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Malcolm X, Sun, Frederick Douglass, Boy with Bubbles #2

flashé paint and silkscreen ink on paper
24 3/8 x 17 1/4 in. (61.9 x 43.8 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated "Glenn Ligon 2001, Malcolm X, Sun, Frederick Douglass, Boy with Bubbles #2" on the reverse.

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $37,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 17 May 2013 10am