In this artist project, Glenn Ligon traces the representation of black people in the United States on book covers, highlighting the deliberate use of typography, photography and graphics.
Best known for appropriating imagery and text from popular culture, Ligon has selected over 50 book covers – by both lesser-known and seminal authors such as James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison – to explore a rich and complex set of histories and representations.
Spanning the twentieth century and grouped thematically, the covers reveal correspondences between the past and the present, as well as links between the social and visual constructs of race, beauty and the body.
To introduce the book, an essay by Ligon identifies one of the foundation stones of his life and work: the act of reading.
This publication coincides with the exhibition Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions at Nottingham Contemporary (4 April–14 June 2015) and Tate Liverpool (30 June–18 October 2015).