Glenn Ligon’s Art Projects a Powerful Voice
Glenn Ligon often appropriates texts from African-American literature to explore race, identity, sexuality, and language. Raised in the Bronx, New York, Ligon attended both Wesleyan University and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. His career took off with a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2011. The exhibition traveled to museums throughout the United States.
Often considered a conceptual artist, Ligon’s work spans several mediums including painting, neon, digital, installations, and photography. The words in the text-based works are often obscured in some manner, encouraging people to take a closer look. In Ligon’s 2012 neon work Double America the two words initially appear to be mirror images of each other, but at deeper inspection are not exact reflections. Ligon says, “that was a way of thinking about how you have something that both addresses the viewer—and turns away from them.”
His works are in major collections including the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. At a 2015 Christie’s auction, his Stranger #37 (2008) sold for over $2.9 million—his highest-selling piece to date.