Elson Lecture: A Conversation with Glenn Ligon
National Gallery of Art

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 3:30pm

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[Lecture / Panel]
Elson Lecture: A Conversation with Glenn Ligon

Where  |National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC

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About This Event

A Conversation with Glenn Ligon
March 14 at 3:30PM

East Building Concourse, Auditorium
Glenn Ligon, artist, with Molly Donovan and James Meyer, associate curators of modern art, National Gallery of Art

Book signing of Glenn Ligon: AMERICA and Yourself in the World: Selected Writings and Interviews follows.

Glenn Ligon's intertextual works examine cultural and social identity—often through such sources as literature, Afrocentric coloring books, and photographs—to reveal the ways in which slavery, the civil rights movement, and politics inform our understanding of American society. Born in the Bronx, New York, in 1960, Ligon received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1982 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1985. He lives and works in New York City.

The Gallery owns 16 prints by Ligon, including a suite of four etchings (1992), Runaways (1993), and Condition Report (2000). Last year the Gallery acquired its first painting by the artist. Untitled (I Am a Man) (1988) is a reinterpretation of the signs carried by 1,300 striking African American sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968 and made famous in Ernest Withers' photographs of the march. Proclaiming "I Am a Man," the signs evoke Ralph Ellison's famous line—"I am an invisible man." Approximating the size of these signs, Ligon's roughly made painting combines layers of history, meaning, and physical material in a dense, resonant object. As the first painting in which the artist appropriated text, it is a breakthrough. In subsequent works he would transform texts into fields that fluctuate between abstraction and legibility.

Ligon has received numerous awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2003) and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting (2006). The midcareer retrospective Glenn Ligon: America, organized by the Whitney, received the International Association of Art Critics Award (2012).

(Photo by David Seidner)

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