ARTIST GLENN LIGON CURATES BLUE BLACK EXHIBITION EXPLORING MULTIPLE MEANINGS AND USES TWO COLORS ACROSS ARTISTIC PRACTICES

. May 13, 2017

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation announces Blue Black, an exhibition guest-curated by influential American artist Glenn Ligon. With more than 50 works ranging from abstraction, to portraiture, to “outsider art,” experimental film, textiles, and more—and including examples by Ligon—Blue Black explores a multiplicity of meanings and uses of the two colors. These include their deployment as discrete formal elements, their role as complex evocations of race, power, and sexuality, and their association with music, among other meanings and allusions. In so doing, the exhibition resists fixed interpretations, instead enlisting color 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.

Mr. Ligon conceived of Blue Black on a visit to the Pulitzer where, upon seeing an Ellsworth Kelly wall-sculpture of the same title, he heard Louis Armstrong’s voice singing “What did I do to be so black and blue,” lyrics from Fats Waller’s Black and Blue. Although Kelly’s work is about color, shape, and form, the song reminded Ligon that “blue” and “black” have myriad other meanings as well, and the idea of an exhibition that would, in his words, “explore the space between Blue Black and ‘black and blue’” struck him as an interesting project.

As Ligon thought further, three ways of looking at blue and black in art came to mind and became a kind of lens through which he selected works for the exhibition. Identified by combinations of the title words, they are “Blue-Black,” in which nuances of color are a means of exploring identity, largely in portraiture and other figurative works; “BlueBlack,” which includes works in which the boundaries between the colors black and blue are blurred; and “Blue Black,” which encompasses works in which, as in the Kelly sculpture, the colors are discrete visual elements. While these groupings provide a conceptual structure for the exhibition, many works would be at home in more than one, and the exhibition does not strictly organize the artworks into those groups. The result is a display that is at once complex and provisional, enabling viewers to follow their own paths and experience numerous connections within and across the Pulitzer galleries.

A non-collecting institution, the Pulitzer occupies one of the world’s most celebrated examples of museum architecture, a Tadao Ando-designed building that comprises spacious galleries illuminated by abundant natural light, creating poetic, multilayered experiences of the art within. Visit www.pulitzerarts.org

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1958. Oil on paper, 30 3/4 x 22 7/8 inches (78.1 x 58.1 cm). Private Collection, courtesy Cheim & Read, New York © Estate of Joan Mitchell

Category: Fine Art News

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