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Untitled (Study #2 for Prisoner of Love)
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About the item

Untitled (Study #2 for Prisoner of Love) was painted in 1992 in the aftermath of Glenn Ligon’s critically acclaimed participation in the 1991 Whitney Biennial. This marked the beginning of his signature mature style in which he silkscreened excerpts from a variety of texts onto a white background. The text and title used for Untitled (Study #2 for Prisoner of Love) are ones that most enduringly occupied Ligon and can be found in several other important paintings now in the prestigious collections such as the Guggenheim and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Literary appropriations are central in Glenn Ligon's work, having borrowed allusions from Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, John Howard Griffin and Jean Genet. This phrase is appropriated from a memoir by the French writer Jean Genet entitled Prisoner of Love. The phrase can be interpreted as having several important meanings. It is undoubtedly highly charged, relating to race relations in American and world history, questioning the ways in which bodies and images become legible within culture. It could equally refer to Glenn Ligon’s signature method of mark making: screening black ink onto a white background. The text screened onto the blank white canvas is what gives it meaning. As such, it is a highly self-referential piece that alludes to the anxiety and nervousness of being a painter during the 90s when painting’s obituary had been written ad infinitum.\n\nFundamentally, the use of both form and language establishes Ligon's paintings as something all-encompassing. According to Darby English, "Ligon alters these conceptions by rendering the work's meaning structure open by means both appropriative (e.g. repurposing texts and forms) and mechanical (e.g. painting through a stencil, typing), which locate him somewhere between the source and its manifestation, between representer and represented." (Exh. Cat., Toronto, The Power Plant (and traveling), Glenn Ligon Some Changes, 2005, p. 38) The silkscreened text in Untitled (Study #2 for Prisoner of Love) begins very legibly and gradually disintegrates into abstraction as one reads down the page. The build-up of paint and oil stick on the canvas surface, which gradually becomes darker as the text proceeds from top to bottom and the struggle to decipher the text emerges as an integral part of its meaning. Literally and metaphorically, the words "Why Must We Be the Ink that Gives the White Page a Meaning?" devolve into abstraction. This loss of legibility into abstraction is a quality that Ligon values above all else in his paintings and explains the importance and strength of this example. Ligon explains, “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to keep this smearing from happening, until I realized it was interesting. It seemed to coincide with my way of reading the text, my way of obsessively rereading. The idea of saying something over and over and not being heard.” The effect of this process is a many-layered, viscerally commanding surface in which paint and language face off, each powerfully asserting a variety of meanings.\nSigned twice, titled and dated 1992 on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil and gesso on canvas

creator

Glenn Ligon

condition

This work is in excellent condition overall. There are no apparent condition issues with this work. Under ultraviolet light condition there is no evidence of restoration. Framed. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

30 by 20 in. 76.2 by 50.8 cm.

exhibition

New York, Max Protetch Gallery, Glenn Ligon/Paintings, May - June 1992

provenance

Max Protetch Gallery, New York Acquired by the present owner from the above in May 1992

signedDate

Signed twice, titled and dated 1992 on the reverse

consignmentDesignation

Property from the General Mills Art Collection, Sold to Benefit Future Acquisitions

creator_nationality_dates

B. 1960


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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