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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Stranger in the Village (Excerpt), #7

Stranger in the Village (Excerpt), #7


Glenn Ligon

American, born 1960

Ligon’s work contains an excerpt from writer James Baldwin’s celebrated essay, Stranger in the Village: An Essay in Black and White, which was first published in 1955. Baldwin compares his experience in a sheltered European village—a place, he speculates, in which no black man may have ever set foot—to his experiences as a black man growing up in the United States. Ligon, who is of a younger generation, is equally concerned with the politics of race and racial conflict. He presents Baldwin’s text as black on black, and with this, Ligon turns the hyper-visibility of the black man in a Swiss village that is entirely homogenous and white into its camouflage opposite, making the text nearly illegible.

Coal dust and oil stick on linen
72 x 84 in. (182.88 x 213.36 cm)
Gift of William and Ruth True and the Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund
Provenance: The artist; [Max Protetch Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 1998
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Kind of Abstract, Dec, 19, 1997 - June 14, 1998.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Language Let Loose, July 15, 2000 - Apr. 29, 2001.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Hero/Antihero, Dec. 21, 2002 - Aug. 17, 2003.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, In A Silent Way, May 18 - Dec. 1, 2013.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesIshikawa, Chiyo et al. "Seattle Art Museum Downtown." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. p. 59

Hackett, Regina. "SAM's Modern Art Curator has High Hopes for his Expanded Collection". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 14, 2007. A&E

Copeland, Huey, Representations 113, "Glenn Ligon and Other Runaway Subjects", University of California Press, Winter 2011, pg. 73 - 110

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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