At Glenstone Museum, Glenn Ligon’s Neon ‘Heat Broad Glow’ is Welcome Beacon


‘GLENN LIGON: AMERICA’ opened in 2011 on the Whitney Museum of American Artwork, then situated on Manhattan’s Higher East Aspect. Earlier than getting into the museum, guests to Glenn Ligon‘s mid-career retrospective had been greeted by “Heat Broad Glow II” (2011), put in within the entrance window, going through Madison Avenue.

Lighting up the rich, overwhelmingly white New York Metropolis hall with the time period “negro sunshine,” the neon work was a beacon, by turns inviting and discomforting relying in your perspective, your loved ones origins, your American expertise.


GLENN LIGON, Set up view of “Heat Broad Glow II,” 2011 (neon, paint, and metallic assist, 29 x 242 x 4 ⅝ inches / 74 x 615 x 12 cm), Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Md. | © Glenn Ligon


This yr, “Heat Broad Glow II” was acquired by Glenstone Museum. Positioned in Potomac, Md., the tony property blends blue-chip artwork and minimalist structure with pure landscapes.

At present, the work is on view in The Pavilions, displayed in an expansive window that appears out on an 18,000 sq. foot “water courtroom” that includes vegetation that adjustments seasonally. At night time, “negro sunshine,” spelled out in a typeface known as American Typewriter, displays off the water’s floor.

Fantastically framed by the plantings, water function, and the architectural traces of the constructing, the presentation’s tranquil vibe stands in stark distinction to the density and quick tempo of New York Metropolis. Nonetheless, the context stays largely the identical. Glenstone, just like the Whitney, is a standard artwork area at its core. A decade later, the set up continues to be jarring and fantastic.

LANGUAGE IS A GUIDING FORCE within the observe of New York-based Ligon. His work explores American historical past and the African American expertise by means of the lens of politics and tradition and in addition from a private perspective. Literature by James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Ralph Ellison, Walt Whitman, and Zora Neale Hurston has impressed his work. The artist has additionally drawn on Richard Pryor’s get up, fugitive slave commercials, and indicators carried by putting sanitation employees in Memphis in 1968.

Ligon’s output spans portray, drawing, sculpture, pictures, and set up. He’s greatest identified for his textual content and speech-based work and neon works, together with “Heat Broad Glow II.”

“Heat Broad Glow” was impressed by the writing of Stein. In her 1909 novella “Three Lives,” Stein makes use of the time period “negro sunshine” and the phrase “heat broad glow.” Ligon lately visited Glenstone to see the set up of the neon textual content work. He made a video sharing the backstory for the work’s idea and growth and citing the related passage by Stein.

“It’s within the part known as Melanctha the place she’s speaking concerning the lifetime of a Black lady character,” Ligon mentioned earlier than studying from the novella:

    Rose Johnson was an actual black negress however she had been introduced up fairly like their very own baby by white people. Rose laughed when she was comfortable, however she had not the broad deserted laughter that makes the nice and cozy broad glow of negro sunshine. Rose was by no means joyous with the earth-born, boundless pleasure of negroes. Hers was simply extraordinary, any type of lady laughter.

“It’s brutal. However, there’s a gem in there: ‘negro sunshine.’ It’s not unconnected with the stereotypical depictions of Black folks, however taken out of that context it has a completely completely different sort of connotation and that means and resonance,” Ligon mentioned.

“Black pleasure exists, now and traditionally, regardless of the historical past of this nation. There may be similar to factor as ‘negro sunshine,’ ‘negro pleasure,’ ‘Black pleasure.’ And that feels very of-the-moment, though that textual content is 100 years outdated.” CT


FIND MORE “It’s At all times a Little Bit Not But,” a solo exhibition of Glenn Ligon is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, from Nov. 16-Dec. 23, 2021

FIND MORE At Glenstone, The Pavilions options rooms devoted to single-artist installations. Works by Arthur Jafa and Lorna Simpson from the museum’s assortment are presently on view in these galleries


Artist Glenn Ligon visits Glenstone Museum with co-founder, director, and chief curator Emily Rales to see the set up of his neon work “Heat Broad Glow II” (2011). | Video by Glenstone Museum


“Glenn Ligon: Work, Work, Work, Work, Work, Work,” a brand new publication from Hauser & Wirth, coincides with the artist’s present solo exhibition with the gallery in New York. “Glenn Ligon: AMERICA” paperwork the artist’s mid-career survey organized by the Whitney Museum of American Artwork. “Glenn Ligon: Untitled (America)/Particles Subject/Synecdoche/Notes for a Poem on the Third World” paperwork a 2019 exhibition at Regen Initiatives in Los Angeles and features a poem by Robin Coste Lewis, essay by Helen Molesworth, and a dialog between the artist and Hamza Walker. “Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions” was printed to coincide with a London exhibition offered at Nottingham Up to date and Tate Liverpool. “Your self within the World: Chosen Writings and Interviews” incorporates a assortment of writings by Glenn Ligon. A dominated journal is roofed by his “I Am a Man” work, which was impressed by the indicators carried by putting sanitation employees in Memphis in 1968.



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