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Glenn Ligon:  All Over The Place

Glenn Ligon: All Over The Place


American artist Glenn Ligon (b. 1960) is best known for his landmark text-based paintings, which draw on the influential writings and speeches of twentieth-century historical and cultural figures including James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Gertrude Stein. This catalogue accompanies a major exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in which Ligon’s art will be displayed in dialogue with objects from the Fitzwilliam and Trinity College collections selected by the artist himself.


Glenn Ligon is widely considered one of the most important figures in the contemporary art world. Informed by his experiences as an African American living in New York, his art is a sustained meditation on issues of interpretation through translation and quotation, the role of the past in the present, and the representation of the self in relation to culture and history, both as the conceptual underpinning and as a critique of modern society. His text-based paintings, made since the late 1980s, engage provocatively and incisively with the written and oral legacy of writers and cultural icons, from Ralph Ellison to Richard Pryor, highlighting the social, linguistic and political constructions of race, gender and sexuality.


The catalogue accompanies a major exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, while also serving as an introduction to the artist’s oeuvre. A large-scale neon, Waiting for the Barbarians (2021), will be installed in the museum’s grade-I listed portico and two dedicated galleries will be linked by interventions threaded throughout the museum’s permanent collection, in which the artist has been invited to select artworks and objects following themes including annotation, cultural hybridity and legibility.


By exploring Ligon’s curatorial practice alongside his artworks, the exhibition showcases the ideas of one of the most significant Black artists working today in direct dialogue with museological tradition. Issues such as art making and aesthetics, as well as broader questions about race and its socio-political implications, will be further developed in the catalogue, which includes a series of essays and conversations between Ligon and a range of museum curators.

  • Edited by Glenn Ligon and Habda Rashid

    Paperback, 240 x 165 mm

    144 pp., approx. 100 illustrations

    ISBN: 978-1-913645-70-0

  • Exhibition Details

    The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

    20 September 2024 – 2 March 2025

  • About the Editors

    Glenn Ligon’s practice includes painting, sculpture, video, large-scale commissions and works on paper. His work is held in the permanent collections of international institutions such as the Tate in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    Habda Rashid is Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Prior to this, she was Senior Curator then joint Artistic Director at Create London, where she was part of the commissioning team for Veronica Ryan’s Turner Prize-winning Hackney Windrush Art Commission.

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