Glenn Ligon: Art That Pushes the Boundaries of ‘Otherness’

Since the late 1980s, the Bronx, N.Y.-born conceptual artist has explored the limits of race, gender and sexuality in his "text paintings." The Obamas have one of his paintings, Black Like Me #2, hanging in the White House, and now the Whitney Museum of Art is staging a midcareer retrospective of his work. Here's a sampling of just a few of his most provocative works.

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  • Hands

    Hands

    Glenn Ligon (born 1960), Hands, 1996. Silkscreen ink and gesso on unstretched canvas, 82 × 144 inches (208.3 × 365.8 cm). Collection of Eileen Harris Norton. Photograph by Fredrik Nilsen. © Glenn Ligon.

  • Malcolm X

    Malcolm X

    Malcolm X (Version 1) #1, 2000. Vinyl-based paint, silkscreen ink and gesso on canvas, 96 × 72 inches (243.8 × 182.9 cm). Collection of Michael and Lise Evans. © Glenn Ligon. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

  • Mirror

    Mirror

    Mirror, 2002. Coal dust, printing ink, glue, gesso and graphite on canvas, 82 5/8 × 55 1/8 inches (209.9 × 147.6 cm). Collection of Mellody Hobson. © Glenn Ligon. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

  • Untitled (I Am a Man)

    Untitled (I Am a Man)

    Untitled (I Am a Man), 1988. Oil and enamel on canvas, 40 × 25 inches (101.6 × 63.5 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon.

  • Sun (Version 2) #1

    Sun (Version 2) #1

    Sun (Version 2) #1, 2001. Silkscreen ink, oil stick and gesso on canvas, 48 × 36 inches (121.9 × 91.4 cm). Collection of Eileen Harris Norton. © Glenn Ligon. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

  • Rückenfigur

    Rückenfigur

    Rückenfigur, 2009. Neon and paint, 24 × 145 inches (61 × 368.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchased with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon.

  • Self-Portrait (1996)

    Self-Portrait (1996)

    Self-Portrait, 1996. Silkscreen ink and gesso on canvas, 48 × 40 inches (121.9 × 101.6 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon.

  • I Am Not Tragically Colored

    I Am Not Tragically Colored

    Oil stick, gesso and graphite on wood; 80 x 30 inches (203.2 x 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Bohen Foundation in honor of Thomas N. Armstrong III. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon.

  • Narratives

    Narratives

    Suite of nine photoetchings on chine collé, approximately 28 x 21 inches each (71.1 x 53.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins. © Glenn Ligon.

  • Self-Portrait

    Self-Portrait

    Silkscreen ink and gesso on canvas, 48 x 40 inches (121.9 x 101.6 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

  • Untitled 1985

    Untitled 1985

    Oil, enamel, and graphite on paper, 30 x 22 ¼ inches (76.2 x 56.5 cm). Collection of the artist. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz. © Glenn Ligon. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

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