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Refracting Race Through the Comic Lens of Richard Pryor

January 22, 2016


Richard Pryor figures prominently in Glenn Ligon’s new exhibition, “We Need to Wake Up Cause That’s What Time It Is,” at the Luhring Augustine Bushwick gallery




Source: NYTimes


Much of the art that interests me most is art that’s made under pressure: social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, political. Pressure of a kind different from that required to land a gallery or make a sale.


In many cases, and for various reasons having to do with gender, race, class, sexual orientation and temperament, artists who do the sort of pressure-driven work I’m talking about are ones who stand both inside and outside the culture they’re part of. I’m not referring to “outsider artists” per se, or to “political artists,” or artists in any market-defined category. I mean artists who, no matter what their circumstances, in some fundamental way don’t fit, and know it. And in ways obvious or ultra-subtle, that knowledge is the energy that shapes and spurs their work.


Glenn Ligon’s exhibition “We Need to Wake Up Cause That’s What Time It Is,” at Luhring Augustine Bushwick, is a product of pressure doubled. Mr. Ligon’s art has always been about the hard realities of race, and specifically of being a bla