Ligon, Glenn (1960–)
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Glenn Ligon was born in the Bronx, in New York City. He landed his first one-person show, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” at an alternative art space in downtown Brooklyn in 1989. In the relatively brief period of time since that exhibition, he has emerged as one of the leading contemporary American artists working on issues of race, language, and desire. Ligon is best known for his black-on-white paintings in which appropriated texts are stenciled onto door-size canvases. In these works, the artist often repeats an especially charged sentence (e.g., Zora Neale Hurston’s “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background”) until it verges, through the force of excess paint, on illegibility. The resulting paintings set up a visual, and almost visceral, tension between black identity and its forced invisibility.