[Untitled] (Cancellation Prints)
Glenn Ligon is known for his use of stenciled quotations. In 2003 he discovered that one of his earlier print projects, featuring text from author Zora Neale Hurston’s 1928 essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” had not been cancelled by the printer. (Cancellation of a series, by marking the plates with an X, ensures that no unauthorized copies of an artist’s work can be made.) For [Untitled] (Cancellation Prints), Ligon himself cancelled the plates by drawing large drypoint Xs over the stenciling—but then authorized an edition from them anyway. As he explained:
Cancelled but present, new but haunted by the ghosts of their earlier meanings, the prints speak to the mutability of questions of racial identity and a shift in the cultural context in which the original works were received.
Hardground, softground, aquatint and spit bite etching with drypoint
Sheet: 28 1/4 x 20 in. (71.8 x 50.8 cm)
Image: 24 x 15 3/4 in. (61 x 40 cm) (show scale)
Each signed and dated lower right in graphite: "Glen Ligon '03
Robert A. Levinson Fund and gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frank L. Babbott, by exchange
This item is not on view
Glenn Ligon (American, born 1960). [Untitled] (Cancellation Prints), 1992-2003. Hardground, softground, aquatint and spit bite etching with drypoint, Sheet: 28 1/4 x 20 in. (71.8 x 50.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Robert A. Levinson Fund and gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frank L. Babbott, by exchange, 2003.60a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2003.60b_PS9.jpg)
Edition of 15 with 5 aps
component, 2003.60b_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2017
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© Glenn Ligon, Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles
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Tell me more.
These are some of my favorite works by Glenn Ligon. Ligon works primarily with text in his artwork, taken from writers and thinkers of the 20th century. These two prints reference both Zora Neale Hurston's essay "How it Feels to Be Colored Me" and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
Each quote here is from "How it Feels to be Colored Me." The plates used to make these prints were originally used in 1992 to print Ligon's "Four Untitled Etchings" series, which also included other prints with quotes by Ellison.
These prints, made in 2003, play off of this original series with several key changes. These changes includes allusions to Ellison’s writing in the choice of ink, rather than via text, as well as the inclusion of the “X” generally used to cancel plates in print shops at the end of production.