Modern and Contemporary Art
Untitled (I'm Turning Into a Specter before Your Very Eyes and I'm Going to Haunt You)
Glenn Ligon, American, born 1960
Oil and gesso on canvas
Currently not on view
1992-101-1Purchased with the Adele Haas Turner and Beatrice Pastorius Turner Memorial Fund, 1992
LabelA painting of stenciled letters, this work reflects Glenn Ligon's interest in the way culture and language shape personal identity. It is part of a series of paintings in which the artist uses excerpts from literature; this piece quotes the 1959 play The Blacks (Les Nègres) by French writer Jean Genêt. Other works by Ligon are based on texts by African American writers such as James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison. The text moves down the canvas in obsessive repetition, its legibility diminishing with the buildup of paint. The blurring of the words emphasizes their physical presence while at the same time performing the very meaning of the text.