Glenn Ligon: Stranger, January - April 2001
Black: Color, Material, Concept, November 2015 - March 2016
Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet, and Contemporary Art, November 2014 - March 2015
Brothers and Sisters, August - October 2012
The Bearden Project, November 2011 - March 2012
Sculpted, Etched, and Cut, March - June 2011
30 Seconds off an Inch, November 2009 - March 2010
Collection in Context, October 2002 - January 2003
Red, Black, and Green: Loans to and Selections from the Studio Museum Collection, July - September 2001
Joyce Alexander Wein Prize recipient, 2009
Beginning with his 1982 curatorial internship at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Glenn Ligon has since maintained a close relationship with the institution, crediting it with allowing him to believe he could be an artist, rather than a curator: “This is where I started, and it quickly became my home away from home.” (The artist cited in Sarah Cascone, “Glenn Ligon Designs Handbag for Studio Museum in Harlem," Artnet News, September 3, 2014) In 2009, Ligon was awarded the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize, one of the most significant awards given to artists in the United States, and established by musician and philanthropist George Wein to honor his late wife Joyce Alexander, a longtime Trustee of the Studio Museum. Awarded each year to an artist consistently exploring and experimenting within his or her practice, the Wein Prize embodies the Studio Museum’s mission to support living artists in their pursuits. Ligon’s receipt of this esteemed award testifies to the artist’s innovative probing of how identity is filtered, shaped and understood, as well as underscores his decades-long relationship with the Studio Museum.
Language is a central theme in Ligon’s practice; indeed, his most iconic works are the large-scale canvases featuring words that have been stenciled, repeated, and layered to near illegibility as the phrase or sentence winds its way down the composition. Expertly stenciled and Scott Rothkopf notes: “But Ligon understands that quotation is itself an interpretative act. The choice of what to say reveals something about the person who says it. He selected texts to express his curiosity about his place in the world, and over time, that curiosity clearly extended to the words themselves and to the very act of painting them.” (Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (and travelling), Glenn Ligon: AMERICA, 2011, p. 29) Often appropriating texts from authors such as James Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston, Ligon creates a tension between the legible and illegible, the visible and invisible, ‘black space’ and ‘white space,’ thus throwing into sharp relief a multifaceted identity and the ironies inherent to a modern black experience.
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