There's a kind of slowness and inefficiency about rendering text in paint. We're in a world that's very fast, so things that slow you for a minute-give you pause-are good.

— Glenn Ligon

The most thrilling Glenn Ligon quotes that will be huge advantage for your personal development

My job is not to produce answers. My job is to produce good questions.


Paint is a very sensual material. It's lovely to work with and lovely to look at.


Like any artwork, things become richer if you know more about them;

but I don't think that's crucial.


One can take a neon tube and simply paint it black on the front.

So it would read as a black letter or a line, but it would also read as neon because there would be light coming from behind that black letter.


At some point I realized that the text was the painting and that everything else was extraneous. The painting became the act of writing a text on a canvas, but in all my work, text turns into abstraction.


I switched up so that I could work 12-hour shifts at the firm on the weekends so I could have days free to paint. But it was almost like I had a secret life, because I wasn't showing any of my work. It was just in my house. In '89, I got a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. That's when I started to get into group shows. Suddenly I sort of "came out" as an artist.


I graduated from Wesleyan University with a b.

a. in art. I was really headed toward an architecture degree, but when I did the requirements for the major, I realized I was more interested in how people live in buildings than in making buildings. I was more interested in the interactions that happened inside the structures. So I got an art degree as a default position.


Willem de Kooning paintings are a language to be learned.

When they were first shown, they were ridiculed as being just drips and splatters and splashes. You had to learn how to read them.


Jazz musicians like John Coltrane needed these very clear titles for their abstract music, and your decision to bring voices into your music as a way to tap into content. It's related to the way my text-based work still functions as abstraction for me. If I repeat a sentence down a canvas, the text starts to smudge and disappear. It essentially becomes an abstract piece. The meaning of the text is still there.


It's a great idea: to feel the rhythm of something by seeing how it flows on a page.


In government they learned their lesson.

They don't trust artists anymore. Now the money has to go through arts organizations. But, yeah, back then you could get a grant, and I got $5,000 - a huge amount of money.


I think there's an interest right now in the performance aspect of artworks, instead of just hanging things on walls. We're in a moment when a lot of younger artists are looking at work from the '60s and '70s - they are looking at the pieces by Marina Abramovic or Vito Acconci. These pieces have a time element. They were performed live. To perform them again now isn't simply an homage, because it's a different audience, a different moment.


About Glenn Ligon

Quotes 16 sayings
Profession Visual Artist
Birthday 1960

My mother really didn't come from artists.

Her famous quote to me was, "The only artists I've ever heard of are dead." The pottery classes were meant to be a part of my overall uplift. I knew what it meant to be sent to art classes, but I still didn't know anything about being an artist.


I love Thelonious Monk's song "Just a Gigolo.

" It's probably a minor song for him, but whenever I hear a recording of him playing it, I'm mesmerized, because Monk clearly loved pop music. He took it very seriously and made an amazing thing out of it.


I said to myself, "If the government thinks I'm an artist, I must be one."

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