press release

Nottingham Contemporary presents a major exhibition curated by Glenn Ligon, developed in partnership with Tate Liverpool. Encounters and Collisions (named after a work by Boetti in the exhibition), presents an extraordinary cast of artists who have influenced Ligon or with whom he somehow feels affinity. Many are artists Ligon has referred to in his own art or his writings. The exhibition is a kind of autobiographical art history, one that offers multiple vistas onto the background of his practice.

The post-War American canon is well represented, reflecting how Ligon and other artists of his generation intervene in its legacies, introducing the politics and poetics of difference. Major figures from Abstract Expressionism—Pollock, de Kooning, Kline and Guston—appear, as do key representatives of tendencies in American art that followed in its wake, from Pop art and Minimalism to Conceptual art and performance—for example, Reinhardt, Johns, Twombly, Nauman, Serra, Piper and Hammons. These art histories are brought into contact with the evolving politics of their day, in particular the Civil Rights struggle and the Black Liberation movement—specifically with photographs from 3 May 1963 when the authorities turned police dogs and fire hoses on black protestors in Birmingham, Alabama, and powerful imagery relating to The Black Panther Party, in particular its charismatic leader, Huey P. Newton.

Ligon's own New York generation is well represented, including Wojnarowicz, Simpson, Gonzalez-Torres and Leonard. Like Ligon, these and other artists explored loaded questions around representations of race, gender and sexuality during the reactionary aftermath of the "Culture Wars" and the AIDS crisis at the close of the Reagan era.

Several works of Ligon's also feature, making visible the threads that connect his own practice with the works of others. They include an early door painting, a black-on-black Stranger painting, an Untitled America neon, the video Death of Tom, Richard Pryor joke paintings, and works from his colouring book series. Their presence complicates the usual distinction between the solo and group exhibition.

The fully illustrated catalogue also features an anthology of literary and critical texts selected by Ligon that includes James Baldwin, Adrian Piper, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Stuart Hall, Hilton Als, Fred Moten and Wayne Koestenbaum. Ligon's own written contribution to the book takes the form of personal letters to seven of the exhibition's participants. It also includes new essays by Gregg Bordowitz, Alex Farquharson and Francesco Manacorda.

Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions is a collaboration between Nottingham Contemporary and Tate Liverpool curated by Glenn Ligon, in dialogue with Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary, and Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director. The exhibition will also be shown at Tate Liverpool from 3 July to 18 October, coinciding with Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots.

Stephen Andrews, Giovanni Anselmo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, The Black Panther Party, Alighiero e Boetti, Bruce Davidson, Beauford Delaney, Melvin Edwards, William Eggleston, Jean Genet, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Philip Guston, David Hammons, Jasper Johns, Jennie C. Jones, On Kawara, Byron Kim, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon, Dave McKenzie, Steve McQueen, Charles Moore, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Cady Noland, Chris Ofili, Adrian Piper, Jackson Pollock, William Pope L, Sun Ra, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Serra, Stephen Shames, Lorna Simpson, Cy Twombly, Agnes Varda, Kara Walker, Kelley Walker, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye