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Glenn Close-Up

Things get personal at the Contemporary Arts Museum

Ligon shows the therapist evaluations from the ultra-liberal school he attended as a kid. For the exhibition, they're mounted on the wall. It's interesting to read his teachers' observations in light of the adult that Ligon became. They comment on his "artistic gifts," "sophisticated writing style" and "acid, witty sense of humor." One notes that he can be "moody and grouchy" and prefers to work alone. His sixth-grade teacher declares, "Glenn has not learned to be vulnerable yet with his peers. I think he is afraid of showing any weakness..."

In one work, Malcolm X gets a makeover.
Courtesy of CAMH
In one work, Malcolm X gets a makeover.

There is something quite nice about these extremely personal works. I think they're successful in part because Ligon is an intriguing person and a talented artist, but also because it seems like they were difficult for him to share. Psychoanalyzing artists and their work can be a really bad, boring idea, but the things Ligon shares make sense in the context of his work. As he removes barriers between himself and the viewer, his work just gets stronger.

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