Glenn Ligon Best Books and Series:

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Birth Date: 1960
Birth Place: The Bronx
Known as:
Sex: male
Awards: | Guggenheim Fellowship |
Birth date: 1960
Birth place: The Bronx
Death date: None
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Time period: None
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Member of: American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Ethnic groups: | African Americans |
Movements: | conceptual art | | Black Atlantic |
Participant in: | Documenta 11 |
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Married name: None
Family name: | Ligon |
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Copyright: works protected by copyrights
Citizenship: | United States of America |
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Net worth: None
Education: | Wesleyan University |
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Described by: | National Gallery of Art Library Vertical Files | | St. James Guide to Black Artists | | Metropolitan Museum of Art Constituent Database |
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Genres: - intertextuality - - appropriation - - installation art - - conceptual art - - video art -
Work locations: | New York City |
Fields of work: | conceptual art |
Occupation: | painter | | visual artist | | drawer | | conceptual artist | | installation artist | | printmaker | | filmmaker | | video artist | | photographer |
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Glenn Ligon Biography and Interesting Facts

Glenn Ligon (born 1960, pronounced Lie-gōne) is an American conceptual artist whose work explores race, language, desire, sexuality, and identity. Based in New York City, Ligon's work often draws on 20th century literature and speech of 20th century cultural figures such as James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, Jean Genet, and Richard Pryor. He is noted as one of the originators of the term Post-Blackness.

Early life and career

Ligon was born in 1960 in the Forest Houses Projects in the south Bronx. When he was seven, his divorced, working-class parents were able to get scholarships for him and his younger brother to attend Walden School, a high-quality, progressive, private school on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Ligon enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he spent two years before transferring to Wesleyan University. He graduated from Wesleyan with a B.A. in 1982. Ligon attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1985. After graduating, he worked as a proofreader for a law firm, while in his spare time he painted, working in the abstract Expressionist style of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. In 1985, he participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program. He continues to live and work in New York City.While he started his career as an abstract painter, he began to introduce text and words into his work during the mid-1980s in order to better express his political concerns and ideas about racial identity. Most of the text that he used came from prominent African-American writers (James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison).Ligon gained prominence in the early 1990s, along with a generation of artists including Janine Antoni, Renée Green, Marlon Riggs, Gary Simmons, and Lorna Simpson.

Personal life

Ligon lives in Tribeca. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA). He currently serves on the Board of directors for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Pulitzer Foundation, and LAXART. His Brooklyn studio is near where artist friends Paul Ramirez Jonas and Byron Kim also work.


Ligon works in multiple media, including painting, neon, video, and photography based works. His work is greatly informed by his experiences as a gay African American man living in the United States.

Text-based Works

Although Ligon's work spans sculptures, prints, drawings, mixed media and neon, painting remains a core activity. He has incorporated texts into his paintings, in the form of literary fragments, jokes, and evocative quotes from a selection of authors, which he stencils directly onto the canvas by hand. His source materials concern issues of the lives of black Americans throughout history. In 1990, he mounted his first solo show, "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," in Brooklyn. This show established Ligon's reputation for creating large, text-based paintings in which a phrase chosen from lit ... Read full biography