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An American contemporary voice beyond words: An Interview with Glenn Ligon1

Clémentine Tholas et Glenn Ligon

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  • 1 This interview was conducted at the artist’s studio in Brooklyn on March 9, 2023.
  • 2 Biographical information can be found on the following websites: www.glennligonstudio.com/biography(...)

Born in 1960, Glenn Ligon is an artist living and working in New York. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Throughout his career, Ligon has pursued an incisive exploration of American history, literature, and society across bodies of work that build critically on the legacies of modern painting and conceptual art. Since the late 1980s he has been best known for his landmark text-based paintings, focusing on words, their meaning and illegibility; his creations draw on influential writings, speeches and performances by 20th-century cultural figures including James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Genet, and Richard Pryor, to name only a few, and his approach gives palpable density and weight to the word. He uses painted language to highlight the social and political value systems that give these texts meaning and how they are altered or underscored through his work. His awards and honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters Membership, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize.2

Clémentine Tholas: Was your piece Some Black Parisians3 for Le modèle noir exhibition at the Orsay museum your first collaboration with a French institution? And if it was not, do you feel that it changed the way your work was received in France afterwards?

  • 4 Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today. October 24, 2018-February 10, 20 (...)

Glenn Ligon: As you know, I show with Galerie Chantal Crousel and have had a few shows with them. So Crousel had introduced my work in France (at least on the gallery side), and I have been in other group shows there as well. My participation in the Black models show came about in sort of a strange way because it was an adjunct to the original exhibition; I was never a part of the original discussions around the first iteration at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery.4 I was invited to participate by Donatien Grau, who is now at the Louvre and was working directly with Laurence des Cars at the time. Donatien was shepherding contemporary artist projects for the Orsay Museum and asked me if there was some interest in my responding in some way to the themes of the show. I don't think I had seen it in New York, but I met with his curatorial team at Orsay. I had my own questions about particular holdings that the museum had. As the space that was offered was the atrium—which is quite daunting—I focused on the two towers of the museum because I realized that was the most important uninterrupted wall space in the atrium. They had never actually done anything on these towers before as far as I can remember. And I focused on this question, which was central to the exhibition: what were the identities of the models? So many of their names are either unrecorded, or we just have their first names because of payment records, like Joseph—he’s quite famous as a model, but we don’t know his last name; things like that were super interesting to me. That's kind of where the idea came from: using the historical records that had these names but were often not widely known or even considered. There is a lot of scholarship on Manet’s Olympia, and yet very little discussion about the Black maid, “How was she as a real person? Who was the model for that?” (Solly). All these questions were part of the Black model show and the scholarship around it, so that became interesting to me.

Fig. 1. Glenn Ligon. Des Parisiens noirs / Some Black Parisians, installation view at Musée d’Orsay, 2019

Fig. 1. Glenn Ligon. Des Parisiens noirs / Some Black Parisians, installation view at Musée d’Orsay, 2019

© Musée d'Orsay / Sophie Crépy © Glenn Ligon

C.T.: I understood that among private collectors and on the side of the gallery, you already had fans and people buying your artwork in France. But this is a move from the gallery to the museum. Were you surprised to be contacted by Orsay? I know that Orsay has had projects with contemporary artists, however, in France at the moment, many African American artists —many Black artists, not necessarily American—are not contacted by modern art museums. They are not contacted by the Centre Pompidou, for instance. Therefore, I am wondering why Orsay is working with contemporary artists. Why is the Picasso Museum doing something on Faith Ringgold?5 I don't know if modern art museums in France are biased or not. These are questions that I discuss with scholars. Were you surprised that it was the Orsay museum which reached out to you instead of another museum?

G.L.: I was not really surprised because I think that working with contemporary artists, for museums like Orsay, is a way to diversify their audience and so they're being strategic about that. Many school children go to the museum, but that's a little bit different from their long-term audience. I think that Donatien was thinking about who their long-term audience would be, and how to make the Orsay museum an outstanding destination. The question is how many times can you go visit the same paintings? Endlessly! As we have seen with the Louvre. But even the Louvre needs strategies; like when Jay-Z and Beyoncé did their video there and then the museum’s attendance went up. That says to these museums that there's an untapped audience here that the contemporary in the larger sense taps into.

But I am thinking about this question of why Black American artists in France. In some ways, it is a way to show Blackness without having to deal with a Blackness that is at home. And Faith Ringgold has a whole series of quilts and images that use Picasso and imagine what is the Black presence in these spaces. So I understand why the Picasso Museum is taking that work and showing it there.

  • 6 Interview with Cécile Debray, director of the Picasso Museum, on January 4, 2023.

C.T.: The artwork that you created for Orsay was really bold. If I compare what is going on at the moment with Mickalene Thomas at the Orangerie Museum and Faith Ringgold at the Picasso Museum, these institutions have tried to create a connection between white art history and Black artists. Also, with Kehinde Wiley at Orsay, there is this comparison and the idea of a legacy between European art and African American art. Yet with Le modèle noir, you were commissioned to create a piece for the exhibition and the museum, and the political dimension was much more obvious. I met with Cécile Debray, who is now director of the Picasso Museum, and she said that this exhibition was really a turning point, because it was a way to appeal to Black museumgoers, or people who were not museumgoers before. And suddenly, they felt entitled to go to major museums.6

  • 7 Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina. September 9, 2022-February 5, 2023 (...)
  • 8 Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast. March 10, 2022-March 5, 2023, Metropolitan Museum, www.m (...)
  • 9 Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room. Metropolitan Museum, www.metmuseum.org/ (...)

G.L.: I think that one has to commend the museums for recognizing that there is a potential public that they are not serving. How do you address that? The same thing is happening here in the United States. If you go to the Metropolitan Museum, for example, there was a show of African American potters from the South7, from the turn of the last century. There was the Carpeaux show that's just finished,8 in which they have Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker responding to Carpeaux’s sculptures that are in the Met’s collection. There is the Afrofuturist room.9 These shows were happening at the same time. The funny thing about them is that they were great shows, but the size of the banners was almost the size of the shows. From the banner, you would think each one was a whole huge gallery.

C.T.: With the Met, everything has to fit in one single museum.

G.L.: It is a territorial question too. The David Drake show, which was called Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina, was shown in the Lehman wing, where they usually have impressionist work; it was one person's collection given to the Met. Half of Hear Me Now is in the hallway because they didn't really have enough space. So the exhibition is literally spilling out of this one gallery room. And I thought maybe that’s because it is territorial, all these departments don't want to give up real estate for shows that are not coming from their department. I understand that, but I also feel it would be nice to give more space to these exhibitions. This may be different in France. I felt that when I was working at Orsay, the two towers were very prominent spaces to be given. And even the Black model show was given a lot of space. So I can imagine that was an important turning point. It probably was also an important turning point in terms of inter-departmental cooperation because that show was much smaller when it was here in New York. I guess some items didn't travel to the US, but they were in France already.

  • 10 Faith Ringgold: American People. February 17, 2022-June 5, 2022, New Museum, www.newmuseum.org/exhi (...)
  • 11 Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight. October 28, 2021 –April 17, 2022, ICA Miami ; September 9, 2022- Jan (...)
  • 12 Glenn Ligon: Post-noir. June 24, 2022-November 20, 2022, Carré d’Art de Nîmes, www.carreartmusee.co (...)
  • 13 Jean-Marc Prevost, director of Le Carré d’Art de Nîmes, interviewed by Clémentine Tholas on Decembe (...)

C.T.: I realize that when you've got artworks originating from one country and they're taken to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, exhibitions are smaller. For instance, the Faith Ringgold exhibition in Paris is a smaller version of the exhibition at the New Museum in New York.10 The Betye Saar exhibition in Metz is also a smaller version of the exhibition at the ICA in Miami.11 Actually, that's a good transition to talk about your solo exhibition at Le Carré d’Art de Nîmes. I spoke to Jean-Marc Prevost, the director of the museum, who explained that he himself selected your works for the summer exhibition Post Noir12 and that he is given a lot of freedom to choose the artists he is working with.13 How did you meet him? How did you decide to have the exhibition in Nîmes?

G.L.: As a friend of mine said, you have to dance with whoever comes to the party. Someone asked me that question, “why Nîmes?” And I said, “you have to show where you're offered a show.” I was also offered a show with the idea that it would be the whole floor, with the possibility to shape it how I wanted. Now, the reality is that regional museums operate with limited budgets, and you can't do everything. We borrowed things that were in France and Europe already. For example, there's a very large Baldwin painting—Stranger (Full Text) #1— which was already in Europe because it had been shown at Hauser and Wirth, in Zurich.

Fig. 2. Glenn Ligon. Stranger (Full Text) #1, 2020-2021

Fig. 2. Glenn Ligon. Stranger (Full Text) #1, 2020-2021

Oil, gesso and charcoal dust on canvas, two panels, 304,8 x 1371,6 cm. Courtesy of the artist; Hauser & Wirth, New York; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Thomas Dane Gallery, Londres & Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Jon Etter. © Glenn Ligon

What was attractive to me was Jean-Marc Prevost’s program. It was an opportunity to have a fair amount of space in Le Carré d’Art, which is interesting because it has the library in the same building, like a mini-Pompidou. I liked the idea of lots of different kinds of people using the building. And Jean-Marc was also very easygoing. In some ways, the show was quite classical in that it was introducing a range of works rather than a single project. Thus, it was an introduction to my whole practice, rather than a specific body of work because it could have been a show of all James Baldwin paintings; that would have made sense but seemed less interesting.

Fig. 3. Double America, 2012

Fig. 3. Double America, 2012

Neon and paint, 91,4 x 304,8 cm.

Courtesy of the artist; Hauser & Wirth, New York; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Thomas Dane Gallery, Londres & Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Farzad Owrang. © Glenn Ligon.

C.T.: I saw the exhibition over the summer and this selection was very accessible to spectators. Entering your universe, your creations, was very easy. Jean-Marc Prevost told me about the collaboration with the students from l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes, who made the video in which you are presenting and explaining your work.

G.L.: That was actually a bit of a surprise because I did not know that the main interviewer was a student. I thought she was a professor. She had prepared really well, asked good questions, and knew the work. That was nice to work with students. However, the flip side of that is sometimes one can feel called on to explain everything. I don't know if artists are always the best explainers of their own work, or if that is a duty that they should be tasked with. Some people don't like to talk about their work at all. But sometimes there is a sort of anxiety about somebody not understanding what the work is about.

C.T.: It is funny that you're saying it is complicated to talk about your artwork when you are an artist because you are extremely articulate when discussing your practice. Your ability to present your work, your understanding of American history, and the role of your work in reconsidering or raising new voices are fascinating.

G.L.: I think it becomes a kind of burden. I'll tell you a story about an institution that exhibited one of the Baldwin text paintings. It is a black-on-black painting with coal dust, so a very dense surface that is hard to read. I didn't see it when it was exhibited, but an art historian friend was there and he sent me a picture and said, “They transcribed the Baldwin text in your painting, and put it on a wall label next to the painting.” But because it is hard to read with all these gaps, because they were literally trying to read the painting and couldn't make out some words, they just left gaps in the wall labels. And I thought, “They must know that this is not a book, right?” But I realized there was some anxiety that somebody could not read this entire painting, and so they literally had to put the text next to it, as if the difficulty of reading was not part of the work, as if the original text by Baldwin is not immediately accessible via Google. There seems to be some other anxiety about Blackness and abstraction, complicated ideas about legibility, and an obligation to explain the work and overexplain it to the audience.

C.T.: Some of the questions that I shared with other colleagues, who are art historians or American history scholars, are about Black artists producing figurative artwork. Fabrice Hergott, the director of Le Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, said that at some point Black American artists were expected to produce figurative work and that it was an audacious move to decide to shift toward abstract art. There was also a discriminatory subtext in thinking that figurative art was related to African American artists and that they could not do anything else.

G.L.: I think that’s the Kerry James Marshall argument—that if you don't see yourself reflected on the walls of the museum and you're an artist, then it is your “duty” to make works that reflect Black experience. But the problem is that figuration is just one version of representing Black experience.

I was talking to an artist, Jordan Casteel. Her last show14 was a mix of portraits of people that she met in Harlem and some of her students mixed with big paintings of her garden. She said that the critical response was all towards the figurative work, not to the other paintings, because nobody could quite understand why, at this moment, a painter like her would be painting still lifes of their garden. There are other artists moving in the same direction, like Cy Gavin, who has a show up now at Gagosian,15 and Jennifer Packer, who did a whole series of floral arrangements—one was for Breonna Taylor, who was killed.16 I think there is this sort of demand for figurative painting and many artists to fill it, but not every artist feels they need to do that all the time. I would also say, moving away from that is a kind of resistance to this demand.

C.T.: Some formats used to be considered less noble than others, like video art for instance. I am thinking of Arthur Jafa or Isaac Julien who are widely celebrated now. Yet, for a while, there was a sense of hierarchy and doing video was not as noble as painting. And I feel there are some racial biases in the art world, some preconceived ideas about what Black artists (no matter where they're from) are supposed to create and which format they are supposed to use.

  • 17 Jack Whitten. The Greek Alphabet Paintings. November 18, 2022-July 10, 2023, Dia Beacon, New York, (...)

G.L.: That argument is definitely here, too. If you are looking at artists like Jack Whitten, a big show at the Dia Art Foundation17 is up right now. But his career trajectory was late 60s-early 70s museum exhibitions and then kind of nothing. He taught to make do, he had Black collectors certainly and shows, and places like the Studio Museum in Harlem were committed to his work, but other institutions were not buying the work nor collecting it, and then there is this resurgence. But I think there was that idea that abstraction and Blackness don't go together, even though there are lots of Black abstract ideas.

  • 18 Alexandre Diop. Jooba Jubba, l’Art du Defi / the Art of Challenge. November 28, 2022-November 12, 2 (...)

C.T.: If we consider the notion of otherness (depending on the country where you live), it is striking that in France, African artists or artists of African descent don’t receive the same praise in museums as African American artists. And now I realize that some emerging artists in France are more easily exhibited in the US. For instance, Alexandre Diop, who is not that famous in France, has a show at the Rubell Museum in Miami,18 and it is one of the major museums committed to Black artists.

G.L.: Why do you think that it is easier to deal with other people’s history, for example Black American history and issues, than dealing with one’s own? But maybe that’s not actually what is going on, it is probably more complicated.

C.T.: There is a debate in France about decolonizing museums and about which museums are decolonized. It is more complicated for modern art or contemporary art museums to be inclusive, to pay more attention to non-white artists. And, in France, in Paris, the works of these artists, whether they come from Africa or the US, are presented in classical fine arts, historical museums, or places like Musée du Quai Branly which covers both art and ethnography. There is an invisible hierarchy, which is not in fact so invisible, in a museum like the Centre Pompidou. And museums which are not specifically art museums seem more interested in discussing diversity and inclusion. Also, the fact that the art market is dominated by American artists has an impact on the shows and the decisions to exhibit many African American artists.

G.L.: As it is here in the US, there are funding considerations. The Nîmes show happened with not so much outside support. Galleries gave some support, but I think the Orsay show had more gallery support. In America, what is interesting is that institutions that seemingly have a very good track record of showing African American artists are not necessarily collecting institutions. A lot of museums will do one show—to check the box—and then they are done.

  • 19 The Burns Halperin Report, led by two journalists, studies diversity in US museums. For the 2022 ed (...)

C.T.: I have read the Burns Halperin report, published in December 2022,19 and it emphasizes the difference between exhibiting and buying for the collections. There is a long way to go for museums to have more works by African American artists in their collections.

  • 20 Henry Taylor. B Side. November 6, 2022–April 30, 2023, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, www (...)

G.L.: Indeed, there are many examples where artworks were exhibited in shows and then did not get bought. And 25 years later, the museums realized they missed the opportunity to acquire, even if the artist had a big installation at some point. Or, for instance, I recently saw a show of Henry Taylor at MOCA in Los Angeles;20 there is a beautiful painting that MoMA owns, and the curator said that they have never shown it before. The show will be coming to the Whitney in New York afterwards. It is ironic that the painting will be first shown by MOCA and then at the Whitney despite having been in MoMA’s collection for a while.

C.T.: During a roundtable at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in 2018 on what the museum of the future will be (“Quel musée”), several museum directors insisted on the fact that a museum is what you can see in the rooms and also the collections in storage, and, with new technology, they have to rethink how they make their collections accessible online to people and how they can value the works which are not presented on the walls of the museums. Yet, the best access to artworks are real life exhibitions, related to the physicality of the museum experience.

G.L.: I think it is also this question of normalization. I remember going to MoMA and there was a beautiful painting by Jack Whitten, Atopolis: For Edouard Glissant, which they own; they had it on view for about six months, and I would go every month and try to pry its secrets open because I thought it was an amazing painting. It was in the permanent collection gallery, and then they changed the display and, where that painting was, they put up a giant Julie Mehretu painting. So I put on Instagram: “somebody read the memo.” One of the curators texted me back and said: “Yes, that was my show”; it revealed that you can be a curator at the MoMA and a room in the permanent collection is “your” show, but your name is not on it. Then we had this interesting discussion around the idea that you can only normalize things if they are on the walls. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon will always be up, the Monet paintings will always be up, but what if the Jack Whitten or Julie Mehretu works were always up? The idea of masterpieces and the canon change thanks to choices made by museums. It is important to normalize things and that it is not strange anymore for artists of color and women to be in these prominent, long-term positions in a museum hang and that the audiences get used to that, expects that, seeing an African American artist next to a Jackson Pollock, next to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and so on. It has taken a lot of work for museums because that is not normally what they’ve been doing.

C.T.: As an artist, you are in a conflicted position: if you want to make a living, you need to sell your artwork, but depending on where your work is presented, it is more or less meaningful in terms of public acknowledgment. As you said, if you want to change things, you have to be on the walls of museums, even though museums are not as fast and active as private collections regarding acquisitions. Despite museums not making the artists earn money and despite their slow pace to be more inclusive, you have to be in museums to transform societies.

G.L.: Someone like Kerry James Marshall is very aware of the symbolism of museum shows, like showing at the Met versus all the other museums in New York that would have loved to show his work. I don’t know him personally, but I heard him express his vision of the Met as one of the premiere museums in the world, like Le Louvre. It is symbolically important that his show was there.

C.T.: There are other museums that are meaningful like the Baltimore Museum of Art or the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts which are free and open every day. I am interested in the latter because I lived in Virginia twenty years ago, when there were confederate monuments everywhere. And now that these monuments are down, the VMFA has commissioned Kehinde Wiley for the statue Rumors of War, which is a major initiative. Can smaller scale institutions have a more important impact in changing the way America wants to present itself within the country and also outside of the country?

G.L.: That’s an interesting example because the curator there, Valerie Cassel Oliver, is the one who spearheaded this project, to invite Kehinde Wiley to do the statue. She is also the one that got my neon A Small Band (which was in Venice) in the VFMA’s collection. Sometimes it is one person who changes things, like Valerie. She has done an amazing job and she also pushed that institution, by getting her trustees on board.

The protest around the confederate monuments has been amazing because those monuments were there, one after the other, on this avenue approaching the VMFA, I didn’t know what it looked like before going to Richmond. Valerie has done a great job turning the institution to certain forms of commitment; she is a curator, but commissioning Wiley’s sculpture was a kind of activism. It is an acknowledgement of where you are and what the museum’s role is. The museum did not have to step into that at all, but I think she pushed the project, keeping in mind “how is this museum going to be relevant if we don’t engage?”

Fig. 4. A Small Band, 2015

Fig. 4. A Small Band, 2015

Neon, paint, and metal support. Installation view at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts © Glenn Ligon.

C.T.: It seems that, in France, an institution like Musée du Quai Branly is capable of doing similar things.

G.L.: I imagine that this museum is embroiled in the larger reparations question. Where do the collections come from? Maybe they should go back, or maybe they should be shared. Okwui Enwezor had an interesting perspective regarding these issues because he would say that not everything in every French museum should go back to Africa, but maybe there should be cooperation; maybe a French museum should be supporting a museum in Benin or in Nigeria.

C.T.: The Savoy-Sarr report issued in 2018 deals with the restitution of African cultural heritage to African countries. The conclusion was that France, as a democratic country, respectful of its former colonies, has to give back the artworks and artefacts, but nothing has been done so far.

I have one last question: it seems there is a generation gap between African American artists—I won’t ask you to enter the whole Post-Black debate, because you have explained it many times already—but it seems that younger artists have a different interpretation in their message about American identity and a growing interest in meeting with artists from Africa. Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock project in Senegal is a good example of this call for Black international collaborations. Do you think that depending on the generation, some African American artists think of a larger Black identity outside of the US?

G.L.: I think it probably goes in cycles. A lot of artists from the 1970s, like Martin Puryear or Jack Whitten, had a deep interest in traveling to Africa and meeting artists there who were influenced by them. Now, younger artists are more interested in what happens outside of the United States. Partially, it is because of the question: “What would have happened if we were there? What would our art look like?” In a lecture, Okwui Enwezor talked about artists from the African continent and called them “Been-to” artists and then someone asked him “What tribe are you talking about? What region of Africa are they from?” So Okwui answered, “Been-to, not Bintu! as in I have been to London, I have been to New York.” This anecdote tells you these exchanges are possible because these artists have physically traveled. Or, the other way around, like Wangechi Mutu who is moving her studio back to Kenya, and Michael Armitage (who I know from the UK) who founded the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, a non-profit in Kenya. That exchange exists because artists are more accessible, people travel more.

It is hard for me because I have my own way of approaching things. I feel like younger artists are more open to things in general and are not so siloed about their practice. For example, it never occurred to me to make sneakers or boots like Tschabalala Self did. She made amazing boots; I’ve seen people wearing them. Younger artists are more open about the range of possible things they can do with their practice. For me, especially in the case of fashion, it is too quick because people move too fast from one season to the other and I don’t have enough energy to give it to sneakers or other products, though I have made a handbag for the Studio Museum.

C.T.: Some of them are not into this commercial dimension, such as Titus Kaphar who is more committed to training people, helping other artists with the NXTHVN Fellowship Program in New Haven.

G.L.: I think that’s new too. Theaster Gates at ReBuild Foundation, Julie Mehretu at Denniston Hill, Art and Practice, Mark Bradford has a place in Los Angeles, Lauren Halsey in Los Angeles as well. And maybe that’s because the market is such that they are making money and instead of just hoarding, they have decided to create whole infrastructures to help other artists. That kind of generosity is amazing but uncommon. It is a lot of work to set up a non-profit to have a residency program. It is a serious operation.

C.T.: It also seems that in the United States, there is a solidarity between African American artists from one generation to the other, for instance, some famous artists were also professors. I am thinking of David Driskell.

G.L.: Or Charles Gaines, who was recently honored at a gala in Los Angeles. I saw a picture and it seemed as if every Black artist was there; he was a mentor, he taught all these folks, and they were loyal to him. I have witnessed that intergenerational solidarity at openings where all artists show up to support one another.

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Bibliographie

“Quel musée d'art moderne et contemporain pour demain?” Fondation Louis Vuitton roundtable, January 12, 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ihW3OaQz7Q. Accessed May 5, 2023.

SOLLY, Meilan. “Exhibition Re-Examines Modernism’s Black Models.” Smithsonian Magazine, November 6, 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-black-maid-manets-olympia-tells-us-about-modernisms-models-180970708/. Accessed May 5, 2023.

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Notes

1 This interview was conducted at the artist’s studio in Brooklyn on March 9, 2023.

2 Biographical information can be found on the following websites: www.glennligonstudio.com/biography, www.crousel.com/en/artist/glenn-ligon/, www.carreartmusee.com/fr/expositions/glenn-ligon-178. Accessed May 5, 2023.

3 Glenn Ligon. Some Black Parisians. Musée d’Orsay, March 26-July 21, 2019, www.musee-orsay.fr/en/exhibitions/some-black-parisians-glenn-ligon-196082. Accessed May 5, 2023.

4 Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today. October 24, 2018-February 10, 2019, Wallach Art Gallery; “Le modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse.” March 26, 2019-July 14, 2019, Musée d’Orsay, https://wallach.columbia.edu/exhibitions/posing-modernity-black-model-manet-and-matisse-today-le-mod%C3%A8le-noir-de-g%C3%A9ricault-%C3%A0. Accessed May 5, 2023.

5 Faith Ringgold: Black is Beautiful. January 31-July 2, 2023, Musée Picasso, www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/faith-ringgold. Accessed May 5, 2023.

6 Interview with Cécile Debray, director of the Picasso Museum, on January 4, 2023.

7 Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina. September 9, 2022-February 5, 2023, Metropolitan Museum, www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/edgefield. Accessed May 5, 2023.

8 Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast. March 10, 2022-March 5, 2023, Metropolitan Museum, www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/carpeaux-recast. Accessed May 5, 2023.

9 Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room. Metropolitan Museum, www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/afrofuturist-period-room. Accessed May 5, 2023.

10 Faith Ringgold: American People. February 17, 2022-June 5, 2022, New Museum, www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/faith-ringgold-american-people. Accessed May 5, 2023.

11 Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight. October 28, 2021 –April 17, 2022, ICA Miami ; September 9, 2022- January 22, 2023, FRAC Lorraine, www.fraclorraine.org/exhibition/betye-saar-serious-moonlight/.

12 Glenn Ligon: Post-noir. June 24, 2022-November 20, 2022, Carré d’Art de Nîmes, www.carreartmusee.com/fr/expositions/glenn-ligon-178. Accessed May 5, 2023.

13 Jean-Marc Prevost, director of Le Carré d’Art de Nîmes, interviewed by Clémentine Tholas on December 21, 2022.

14 Jordan Casteel.  In Bloom. Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, September 8-October 22, 2022, www.jordancasteel.com/in-bloom. Accessed May 5, 2023.

15 Cy Gavin. February 2-March 18, 2023, Gagosian Gallery, https://gagosian.com/exhibitions/2023/cy-gavin/. Accessed May 5, 2023.

16 Jennifer Packer. The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing. October 30, 2021-April 17, 2022, https://whitney.org/exhibitions/jennifer-packer. Accessed May 5, 2023.

17 Jack Whitten. The Greek Alphabet Paintings. November 18, 2022-July 10, 2023, Dia Beacon, New York, www.diaart.org/exhibition/exhibitions-projects/jack-whitten-the-greek-alphabet-paintings-exhibition. Accessed May 5, 2023.

18 Alexandre Diop. Jooba Jubba, l’Art du Defi / the Art of Challenge. November 28, 2022-November 12, 2023, https://rubellmuseum.org/97-miami/exhibitions/1459-alexandre-diop-2022-23. Accessed May 5, 2023.

19 The Burns Halperin Report, led by two journalists, studies diversity in US museums. For the 2022 edition, the report examined representation in U.S. museums and the art market for work by Black American artists, female-identifying artists, and Black American female-identifying artists, by tracing museum acquisitions and exhibitions, as well as auction results over more than a decade, and data from leading galleries on representation and sales.

20 Henry Taylor. B Side. November 6, 2022–April 30, 2023, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, www.moca.org/exhibition/henry-taylor. Accessed May 5, 2023.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Glenn Ligon. Des Parisiens noirs / Some Black Parisians, installation view at Musée d’Orsay, 2019
Crédits © Musée d'Orsay / Sophie Crépy © Glenn Ligon
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/22399/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 146k
Titre Fig. 2. Glenn Ligon. Stranger (Full Text) #1, 2020-2021
Crédits Oil, gesso and charcoal dust on canvas, two panels, 304,8 x 1371,6 cm. Courtesy of the artist; Hauser & Wirth, New York; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Thomas Dane Gallery, Londres & Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Jon Etter. © Glenn Ligon
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/22399/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 169k
Titre Fig. 3. Double America, 2012
Crédits Neon and paint, 91,4 x 304,8 cm.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/22399/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 42k
Titre Fig. 4. A Small Band, 2015
Crédits Neon, paint, and metal support. Installation view at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/docannexe/image/22399/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 57k
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Référence électronique

Clémentine Tholas et Glenn Ligon, « An American contemporary voice beyond words: An Interview with Glenn Ligon »Transatlantica [En ligne], 2 | 2023, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2023, consulté le 22 février 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/22399 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/transatlantica.22399

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Clémentine Tholas

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Glenn Ligon

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