How to Make It In “AMERICA”



Among his most personal works are a series of 50 paintings based upon James Baldwin‘s short story “Stranger in the Village.” “That’s been a touchstone for me for some time.”

Though the expansive retrospective will travel to LACMA, he’s moved onto new works for the Istanbul Biennale and a solo show at Luhring Augustine in 2012. “It’s good to see what you accomplished, but its good to put it behind me. It sparked new ideas.” He’s engaged in a collaborative film project with jazz pianist Jason Moran about Ralph Ellison’s process for writing The Invisible Man, and is experimenting with photography. “I’m always interested in the past. Someone asked me what contemporary authors are you interested in? I said Ralph Ellison. Then I realized he’s been dead for some time.”

Ligon draws from history to contextualize the fast-paced events of contemporary society. “We’re in a very tumultuous time and it takes a while to figure out how to respond to that in artwork. I was thrilled that the Obamas had some work in the White House. I’m hoping it stays up there for at least the next five years, you know what I mean?”

Glenn Ligon’s “AMERICA” will be on display at the Whitney through June5, 2011.