press release

American artist Glenn Ligon has guest-curated a lyrical meditation on the colors blue and black for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Regarded as one of the most significant artists of his generation, Ligon’s body of work critiques the complexities of American history, race, language, and identity, an endeavor that is also apparent in his curatorial practice. Ligon conceived of Blue Black during a visit to the Pulitzer where he first encountered Ellsworth Kelly’s 28-foot-tall painted aluminum wall sculpture of the same title. Standing in front of Kelly’s soaring panels of color, in his mind Ligon heard Louis Armstrong’s voice singing “What did I do to be so black and blue?” Although Kelly’s work is about color, shape, and form, the lyrics from this profound song reminded Ligon that “blue” and “black” have myriad other meanings.

The resulting exhibition brings together works ranging from abstraction to portraiture, from Norman Lewis to Andy Warhol, and includes well-known works by Ligon himself. Enabling viewers to follow their own paths and experience numerous connections within and across the Pulitzer galleries, Ligon’s curatorial vision resists fixed interpretations, instead enlisting the colors blue and black to pose timely and nuanced questions.

Blue Black, which will not travel, will be on view at the Pulitzer from June 9 through October 7, 2017.