Into the Album

In 1993, the artist Glenn Ligon walked into Gay Treasures, a now defunct bookstore in Greenwich Village, New York, and purchased a box titled “Black Men,” a collection of pornographic images of men of color. The following year, in what would become (1994–98), Ligon clustered the pictures—largely of the same man—with photographs from found family albums. There are ten pages and thirty-one images all together. One page holds photographs of a young couple gripping hands on a sofa and staring into one another’s gaze; a man standing alone in front of a curtain in a long trench coat, eyeing the camera sidelong; small, discrete portraits of a man in a suit and a woman on the telephone; and (the only color image) a nude young man perched cross-legged with a broad and easy smile,.

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