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Currier Museum of Art Adds Major Contemporary Work by Glenn Ligon to Collection
Invisble Man (Two Views), Glenn Ligon, 1991, oil and gesso on canvas, in two parts, 28 x 20 inches each. Museum Purchase: Henry Melville Fuller Acquisition Fund, 2010. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Glenn Ligon.

MANCHESTER, NH.- The Currier Museum of Art unveiled its recent acquisition, Invisible Man (Two Views) by Glenn Ligon, an internationally acclaimed, New York-based artist represented in the collections of this country’s most respected institutions.

Ligon (born in the Bronx, NY in 1960) is a prominent African American artist whose works are in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art, as well as The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His art has been exhibited before at the Currier in New York, New Work, Now! (2002) and Community of Creativity: A Century of MacDowell Colony Artists (1996.) The Whitney will present a retrospective exhibition of Ligon’s work this spring.

Ligon uses a variety of media – painting, printmaking, neon, photography and video – to explore issues of individuality, race, language and African-American history. Invisible Man (Two Views) is a 1991 self-portrait (oil on gesso) on two canvases. The painting features hand-stenciled text from the prologue of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel of the same name. The novel is an award-winning first person narrative about a black man’s experience in mid-century America.

Ellison’s text begins “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . .”

At the center of each canvas, a portrait silhouette of the artist emerges from within this text—Ellison’s words literally shape Ligon’s image. Depending on one’s distance from the artwork, the silhouettes slip in and out of focus, evoking questions about the visibility of an individual within the greater scope of society and history.

Invisible Man (Two Views) is now on view in the Currier’s contemporary gallery, grouped with Andy Warhol’s Flash print portfolio of 1968, which incorporates text and Marisol Escobar’s Pop sculpture The Family, 1963, which evokes questions about the family in society.

“The Currier is committed to building its collections to reflect the diverse range of artists who are a part of contemporary American art and society,” says Susan Strickler, Director and CEO, Currier Museum of Art. “Ligon’s Invisible Man not only relates to the African-American experience in America, but more widely to all of us who think about our place and struggles in our communities,” Strickler adds.

“Ligon’s language-based and socially conscious work represents an important strategy in contemporary art” says Nina Bozicnik, assistant curator, Currier Museum. Adding, “Invisible Man (Two Views) will hopefully spark meaningful conversations in the galleries.”

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