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Installing "Warm Broad Glow II"Glenn Ligon
Filmed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in early 2011, artist Glenn Ligon installs his twenty-foot neon artwork Warm Broad Glow II (2011) in the museum’s front window before the opening of his mid-career retrospective Glenn Ligon: AMERICA.
With assistance from curator Scott Rothkopf and neon fabricator Matt Dilling, Ligon works to determine the best placement on the neon while battling against wind, rain, window mullions, and a view-obscuring hotdog vendor. Ligon selected the text “Negro Sunshine” from the Gertrude Stein novella Melanctha (1909) and has used the phrase in projects of varying media.More information and credits
Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Clair Popkin & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Mark Mandler. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Glenn Ligon. Special Thanks: Matt Dilling, Lite Brite Neon, Scott Rothkopf & Whitney Museum of American Art. Theme Music: Peter Foley.
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Glenn Ligon’s paintings and sculptures examine cultural and social identity through found sources—literature, Afrocentric coloring books, photographs—to reveal the ways in which the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, and sexual politics inform our understanding of American society. Ligon appropriates texts from a variety of literary writers including Walt Whitman, Zora Neal Hurston, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison. In Ligon’s paintings, the instability of his medium—oil crayon used with letter stencils—transforms the texts he quotes, making them abstract, difficult to read, and layered in meaning, much like the subject matter that he appropriates. In other works that feature silkscreen, neon, and photography, Ligon threads his own image and autobiography into symbols that speak to collective experiences.