Glenn Ligon - Contemporary Art Part I New York Sunday, November 7, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Regen Projects, Los Angeles

  • Catalogue Essay

    In an interview with Museo Magazine Glenn Ligon was asked about the legibility and comprehensive understanding of his works including texts as well as works not including words. Ligon responded: “From the first text paintings, which used quotations from authors like Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Genet, Walt Whitman, or Ralph Ellison, this question of legibility was foregrounded partially because the quotes that I was using in those early paintings always had the word “I” in them, and the titles of the paintings didn’t clearly identify them as coming from specific authors or specific essays or novels. So, there was always confusion for the viewer about who that “I” was. Over time, it became known that ‘Glenn Ligon makes text paintings using quotes,’ but even then, there was still confusion about that: What does it mean to take on another person’s words as a way of talking about the self? One of the things I’ve always been interested in was the connection or collision of identities—that something written by Hurston in the 20s could seem incredibly relevant and autobiographical in some sense, that one could inhabit it, in the way that when you were a kid, you wanted to be a rock star, and everything about that rock star seemed to express who you were. It’s the same kind of relationship to those texts for me: The text is something that I wanted to inhabit, and the way I chose to inhabit it was to make paintings that have quotes that create confusion about who’s speaking” (D. Drogin, “Glenn Ligon,” Museo Magazine, Issue 14). In his painting Gold Just Us #7, Ligon borrowed a joke from comedian Richard Pryor.

  • 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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Gold just us #7

Acrylic and oilstick on canvas.
32 x 32 in. (81.3 x 81.3 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “Glenn Ligon 2008 Gold Just us # 7” on the overlap.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $98,500

Contemporary Art Part I

8 November 2010
New York