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Glenn Ligon

Untitled, from the portfolio Runaways

1993

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Glenn Ligon’s work is often autobiographical, exploring how his own identity as a black man intersects with and is shaped by the sociopolitical circumstances and events of American culture, past and present. His print portfolio Runaways mimics the rhetoric and typography of nineteenth-century advertisements for runaway slaves in Southern newspapers, inserting various contemporary descriptions of himself in place of the runaway. The descriptions were drawn from ten of his friends, each of whom was asked to provide a verbal account of Ligon as though reporting his disappearance to the police. The texts that emerged from this process combine the casual language of physical appearance with the blunt reality of slavery. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Glenn Ligon (American, b. 1960)
  • Title Untitled, from the portfolio Runaways
  • Date 1993
  • Medium Lithograph
  • Edition description 30/45
  • Dimensions sheet | 16 x 12 in.
  • Part of Runaways
  • Credit line University purchase, Nathan Cummings Fund and Art Acquisition Fund, 1996
  • Object number WU 1996.01.04

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Inscription LR: “Glenn Ligon ‘93”

Ran away, Glenn / Ligon. He’s a shortish broad-shouldered / black man, pretty dark-skinned, with / glasses. Kind of stocky, tends to look down / and turn in when he walks. Real short / hair, almost none. Clothes non-descript, / something button-down and plaid, maybe, / and shorts and sandals. Wide lower face / and narrow upper face. Nice teeth.

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