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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 1996.01.08

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Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 02/07/2020 - 04/18/2020

Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/09/2011 - 01/09/2012

Schmidt Contemporary Art

Inscription LR: “Glenn Ligon ‘93”

RAN AWAY, Glenn. He is black. / He has very short hair and eye / glasses. He has quite light skin tone (faded / bronze). Not tall. No noticeable accent. / Wearing a plum-colored shirt, long- / sleeved, and shorts. Very casual and styl- / ish in appearance. He is wearing a bead / bracelet (stones – a mixture of black-and- / white). He has big hands and fingers. When / he walks his feet cross each other a little / bit. When he talks, he usually has a big / smile towards you, yet he faces you from a / slightly different angle. He looks at you / from the corner of his eyes. His voice is / very calm.

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