Glenn Ligon

  • Summer Reading

    GLENN LIGON

    Stuart Hall (1932–2014), the Jamaican-born British theorist who was one of the founders of the field of cultural studies, gave a series of talks at Harvard in 1994. The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation (Harvard University Press), edited and introduced by Kobena Mercer with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., draws from those lectures and promises to be essential reading for those seeking to understand Hall’s tremendous impact on scholars, artists, and filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Glenn Ligon is a New York–based artist.

    ASMA NAEEM

    Because of Deepak Unnikrishnan’s

  • Glenn Ligon

    AGNES MARTIN’S Rose, 1966, is a six-foot-square field of cream-colored acrylic overlaid with a lightly penciled grid. Installed in a room chockablock with Abstract Expressionist, Color Field, and Minimalist works at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the painting asserts a serene presence, sending out, as Walt Whitman once wrote, “secret and divine signs.”

    A teenager standing next to me while I gaze at the painting wonders aloud why it is titled Rose when it’s not rose-colored at all. She has forgotten that the flower comes in many hues, including pale yellows and creamy whites, and that

  • The Best Exhibitions of 2014

    TO TAKE STOCK OF THE PAST YEAR, ARTFORUM ASKED AN INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF ARTISTS TO SELECT THE SINGLE IMAGE, EXHIBITION, OR EVENT THAT MOST MEMORABLY CAPTURED THEIR EYE IN 2014.

    OSCAR MURILLO

    KIM GORDON

    LORETTA FAHRENHOLZ

    Broad City is the first TV show to fully exploit the comic potential of the gentrification of our minds.

    WOLFGANG TILLMANS

    LAURE PROUVOST

    This is an image from a book on Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Idéal (1912). My family was recently seeking architectural inspiration for a museum that will be built when our lost granddad comes out of his conceptual tunnel. It has now been more than

  • Glenn Ligon

    AT A CONFERENCE ON MULTICULTURALISM a long time ago and far, far away, the critic bell hooks declared, “Love will take you places you might not ordinarily go,” and, indeed, it was Love that propelled Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn to locate his Gramsci Monument, 2013—the fourth and final iteration of a series of artworks dedicated to major writers and philosophers—at the Forest Houses in the South Bronx, a New York City Housing Authority complex of fifteen high-rise buildings encircling a vast, albeit ill-maintained, green space. It was not love of the projects per se, however, that

  • Glenn Ligon

    A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, I was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York looking at Jasper Johns’s masterful Flag, 1954–55, when I noticed a young man standing right behind me. I assumed he was waiting his turn to do the close reading of the work that I was doing, but then I realized that he was facing away from the painting toward his girlfriend, who was holding a cell phone and waiting for me to move so she could take a picture of him. It occurred to me that for many people, to look is to photograph, and looking is a social experience, an act to be captured on a phone and disseminated to friends.

  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: PROSPECT.1 NEW ORLEANS

    International biennials of contemporary art have long ventured into the cities that serve as their hosts, but perhaps none has reckoned with so loaded a locale as PROSPECT.1 NEW ORLEANS. More than three years after Hurricane Katrina wrought its devastation, much of the city remains in grave disrepair, making it a setting where critical designations such as “site-specific work” and “socially committed practice” can seem tenuous at best. Curator Dan Cameron and the eighty-one international artists he invited to participate in the first New Orleans biennial were well aware of this dilemma, and they often addressed the challenge by directly involving local communities across the city. The nearly three hundred works on view through January 18 by no means obviate the complexities of staging an exhibition in such a deeply troubled place, but they necessarily suggest heightened and far-ranging questions about how a biennial—or any work of art—might truly engage its context. Artist GLENN LIGON and Artforum senior editor ELIZABETH SCHAMBELAN headed to the bayou to survey the results.

    I ALMOST MISSED one of the most affecting presentations of Prospect.1 New Orleans. Wandering into a small room at the back of the L9 Center for the Arts, I discovered “Gone,” an exhibition of flood-damaged photographs assembled by the center’s founders, local artists Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick. Hung salon style in their ruined mats and mud-encrusted frames, these black-and-white documentary photos of weddings, block parties, and second-line parades in the Lower Ninth Ward are a devastating reminder of what Hurricane Katrina swept away and what a courageous and determined group of artists,

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

    13 SCHOLARS, CRITICS, WRITERS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    BRIGID DOHERTY

    I turned to Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Volume I (edited by Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg; Stanford University Press) in connection with my attempts to look differently at what is made of thinking (and writing) in the art of Hanne Darboven, whose work has often been regarded (to my mind erroneously, or mostly erroneously) as an instance of “Conceptual art.” Psyche—which comprises translations of the first sixteen essays from a volume of Jacques Derrida’s writing that originally appeared

  • Felix Gonzalez-Torres

    IN 1996, the year Felix Gonzalez-Torres died, I made a version of his “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), 1987–90, by hanging two identical battery-operated clocks side by side on my living-room wall. I had always admired his work, and, like friends who had foil-wrapped candies sitting on their bookshelves or a sheet of paper from one his stacks pinned to their walls, I too wanted to live with a Felix. A decade later, I still have my Felix. It’s hanging in my studio, and when I look up at it, I’m reminded of the economy, toughness, and beauty of his multifaceted practice, its wit and generosity, its

  • OPENINGS: DAVE McKENZIE

    At an opening at SculptureCenter in New York in 2003, the artist Dave McKenzie is wearing jeans, sneakers, a red T-shirt, a zip-front jacket, and a large papier-mâché head. He's handing out little white boxes that contain plastic bobbleheads modeled after his own features. A woman approaches him, takes a box, and walks away. A few minutes later, she returns holding bobblehead Dave in her hand. She stares intently into McKenzie’s large painted eyes. “I know you are Dave,” she says, “but who is Dave?”

    A few possible answers:

    1. “I’m Dave, and I’m a dancing machine.”

    In the video Edward and Me, 2000,

  • BLACK LIGHT: DAVID HAMMONS AND THE POETICS OF EMPTINESS

    1. MY UNCLE TOSSY USED TO SAY THAT THERE are two kinds of Niggers in the world: Niggers and Crazy Niggers. Tossy was in the latter category. Handsome in a rough kind of way, he was highly opinionated, always funny, and frequently drunk. For Tossy, style was content, and he was stylish in a Pierre Cardin suit, Stacy Adams shoes, Kangol hat, Kojak sort of way—so fresh and so clean. Tossy (his real name was Elton, but nobody ever called him that) lived in my grandparents’ basement, which was set up as a kind of mock bachelor pad with a sofa bed covered in gray-pink mohair, a teak coffee table with