In this section, Reading Resources offers a Text Bibliography of sources that Glenn Ligon cites directly in his paintings, as well as an Image Biblography of visual works that resonate with the artist’s practice. Each Bibliography groups sets of references that influence and inform our understanding of Ligon’s work, as well as the contexts and histories in which he situates himself.

Bibliographies, as re-sources, pose the question of a work’s history. The sources referenced are not origins but rather points of rethinking and reorientation through which Ligon reorganizes, informs, and anticipates the works around him. From what standpoint, whose perspective, and with what methods was it compiled? Can we trace a text back to a source—one, or many? How does the grouping of these sources inform, complicate, or reframe how we understand a text in the present?


  1. Al-amin, Jamil, Die, Nigger, Die!, New York: Dial Press, 1969.
  2. Baldwin, James, Blues for Mister Charlie: a Play, New York: Dial Press, 1964.

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———, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985, New York: St. Martin’s/Marek, 1985.

  1. ———, “Stranger in the Village.” Notes of a Native Son, Boston: Beacon, 1955.
  2. Toni C. Bambara, The Black Woman: an Anthology, New York: New American Library, 1970.
  3. Helen Bannerman and Fern B. Peat, Little Black Sambo, Cleveland, Ohio: The Harter Publishing Company, 1931.
  4. Amiri Baraka, Home: Social Essays, New York: Morrow, 1966.
  5. ———, Tales, New York: Grove Press, 1967.
  6. Pearl Bailey, The Raw Pearl, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968.
  7. Don Belton, Speak My Name: Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream, Boston: Beacon Press, 1995.
  8. Maurice Berger, White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness, New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.
  9. Benjamin A. Botkin, Lay My Burden Down: a Folk History of Slavery, 1945.
  10. Mary H. Bradley, I Passed for White, New York: Longmans, Green, 1955.
  11. Geoffrey Canada, Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun: a Personal History of Violence in America, 1995.
  12. Steve Cannon, Groove, Bang and Jive Around U.S.: Therion, 1998.
  13. Alice Childress, A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich, New York: Coward, Mccann & Geoghegan, 1973.
  14. Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, New York: Mcgraw-hill, 1967.
  15. Stanley Crouch, Ain’t No Ambulances for No Nigguhs Tonight, New York: R.W. Baron, 1972.
  16. Lorrie Davis and Rachel Gallagher, Letting Down My Hair: Two Years With the Love Rock Tribe-from Dawning to Downing of Aquarius, New York: a. Fields Books, 1973.
  17. Roy Decarava and Langston Hughes, The Sweet Flypaper of Life, New York: Hill and Wang, 1967.
  18. Rita Dove, Through the Ivory Gate: S Novel, New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.
  19. Richard Dyer, “White,” Screen 29.4 (1988): 44-65.
    Michael E. Dyson, Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  20. Muhammad Elijah, The Fall of America. Chicago: Muhammad’s Temple of Islam No. 2, 1973.
  21. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, New York: Vintage International, 1995.
  22. Henry L. Gates, Colored People: a Memoir, New York: Knopf, 1994.
  23. Jean Genet and Bernard Frechtman, The Blacks: A Clown Show, 1960.
  24. Thelma Golden, Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994.
  25. Dick Gregory, Nigger: An Autobiography, New York: Dutton, 1964.
  26. John H Griffin, Black Like Me, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961.
  27. Grace Halsell, Soul Sister, New York: World Pub. Co, 1969.
  28. Essex Hemphill, “The Tomb of Sorrow,” in Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men, ed. Joseph Beam and Essex Hemphill, Boston: Alyson Publications, 1991.
    Chester B. Himes, Pinktoes: A Novel, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965.
  29. Billie Holiday and Eddie Heywood, “Strange Fruit,” Atlantic, 1972.
  30. Langston Hughes, Arnold Rampersad, and David E. Roessel, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, New York: Knopf, 1994.
  31. Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” World Tomorrow 11 May, 1928, 215-216.
  32. Ice Cube, “Death Certificate,” Hollywood, CA: Priority Records, 2002.
  33. Ted Joans, The Hipsters, New York: Corinth Books: 1961.
  34. June Jordan, Some Changes, New York: Dutton, 1971.
  35. Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts, Cambridge, Mass: Mit Press, 1999.
  36. Michael T. Kaufman, “Park Suspects: Children of Discipline,” The New York Times, 26 April 1989.
  37. Adrienne Kennedy, People Who Led to My Plays, New York: Knopf, 1986.
  38. William Klein, Muhammad Ali, The Greatest: A Film, United States: Echelon Studios, 1969.
  39. KRS-ONE, “Sound of Da Police,” Jive, 2010.
  40. Audre Lorde, “Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House: Comments at “the Personal and the Political” Panel,” Second Sex Conference, October 29, 1979.
  41. Robert Mapplethorpe and Ntozake Shange, Black Book, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986.
  42. Bob Marley, “Redemption Song,” Island Records, 1992.
  43. Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, New York: Plume Book, 1994.
  44. Richard Pryor, Reggie Collins, and Steve Pokorny, “… and Its Deep Too,” Los Angeles, CA: Warner Bros. Records, Inc, 2000.
  45. Richard Pryor, “Is It Something I Said?” New York, NY: Warner Archives, 1995.
  46. “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip,” Burbank, CA: Warner Bros, 1982.
  47. Paul Robeson, “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” Classics Record Library, 1976.
  48. Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994.
  49. Gil Scott-Heron, _Small Talk at 125th and Lenox: A Collection of Black Poems,” New York: World Publishing Co., 1970.
  50. Arnold Shaw, Belafonte: An Unauthorized Biography, Philadelphia: Chilton Co., Book Division, 1960.
  51. Earl Shorris, Ofay, New York: Delacorte Press, 1966.
  52. Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel, Race and the Subject of Masculinities, Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.
  53. Gertrude Stein, Three Lives, New York: Grafton, 1909.
  54. Renée Swindle, Please Please Please, New York: Dial Press, 1999.
  55. James Toback, Jim: The Author’s Self-Centered Memoir on the Great Jim Brown, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971.
  56. Peebles M. Van, The Making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Ann Arbor, MI: Neo Press, 1994.
  57. Richard Wright, The Outsider, New York: Harper, 1953.
  58. Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X., 1973.
  59. Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” in God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny, ed. Conrad Cherry, University of North Carolina, 1998, 356-71.

Reading Resources: Glenn Ligon was produced by Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.) in collaboration with Wendy Tronrud (A.R.T. Education Consultant) in summer 2016.

Contributors to Ways of Reading:
Moyra Davey
Tobi Haslett
Byron Kim
Joseph Logan.

Web programming by Jeff Khonsary, with typography by Benedikt Reichenbach.

Copyedited by Sara Jane Stoner.

A.R.T. Staff: Alejandro Cesarco, Kylie Gilchrist, Jo Stewart.

A.R.T. acknowledges the invaluable generosity, assistance, and enthusiasm of all who contributed to Reading Resources production:
LUHRING AUGUSTINE (specially Lauren Wittles and Lisa Vargehese)
A.R.T. Board of Directors
and most specially, Glenn Ligon.

We also acknowledge the assistance and support of institutions who have granted permission for image use:

Copyright © Art Resources Transfer, Inc 2016.

All images are protected under copyright by the original rights holders.

A.R.T. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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