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Glenn Ligon

Untitled, from the portfolio Runaways


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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 1996.01.07

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Inscription LR: “Glenn Ligon ‘93”

RAN AWAY, Glenn. Medium height, / 5’8”, male. Closely-cut hair, / almost shaved. Mild Looking, with oval / shaped, black-rimmed glasses that are / somewhat conservative. Thinly striped / black-and-white short-sleeved T-shirt, blue / jeans. Silver watch and African-looking / bracelet on arm. His face is somewhat / wider at bottom near the jaw. Full-lipped. / He’s black. Very warm and sincere, mild- / mannered and laughs often.

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