About This Artwork
Glenn Ligon’s early love of literature evolved into a fascination with the political and social uses of language, which informs much of his work. Ligon’s paintings and prints contemplate issues about the formation and perception of identity and race. Ligon is perhaps best known for paintings that feature carefully selected phrases or sentences taken from literary sources such as Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Mary Shelley, and Jean Genet. In White #5, evocative quotes by these authors are hand stenciled onto the canvas or printing plate repeatedly, yielding surfaces comprised of line after line of the chosen words, some legible and others less so. Ligon’s manipulations of the text call into question the difference between seeing and reading, and the reliability of the ways in which people see and read each other.