Glenn Ligon, ‘Mirror II Drawing #20’, 2010, LAXART

Please Note: Preliminary online bidding closes on January 22nd at 5:00PM PST (8:00PM EST). Online bids will be transferred and executed at the benefit event later that night.


The source text for this Ligon coal dust work is James Baldwin’s 1953 essay “Stranger in the Village,” which Ligon has used before. While the target of Baldwin’s critique is America, in this instance his reflections on race and alienation are instigated by his repeat visits to a remote Swiss village. Beginning with “see my smille” this passage is about how the villagers react to his physical traits, notably his hair. Hopelessly effaced, the words belong less to Baldwin and more to Ligon who raises Baldwin’s text on phenotypical difference to a tactile register that lovingly obliterates its source. Courtesy of the artist.

Glenn Ligon Studio

About Glenn Ligon

Born and raised in the Bronx, Glenn Ligon grew up taking art classes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while learning about identity politics through the racism and discrimination toward homosexuality that he encountered in New York. He combines this formal art education and complex personal history to create emotionally charged works that convey challenging messages. In his 1993 Whitney Biennial contribution, Notes on the Margin of the Black Book (1991–93), for example, Ligon paired images and text to satirically comment on literary and visual representations of the black male body. Whether constructed from neon lights, coal dust, glitter, paint, or photographs, Ligon’s work fluctuates between humor and startling honesty, reminding viewers that intolerance remains ubiquitous.

American, b. 1960, Bronx, New York, based in New York, New York