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Glenn Ligon, Double America, 2012, neon and paint, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Agnes Gund

Double America, Ligon

The top row of letters in this work are painted black and turned toward the wall so the viewer looks at the illuminated backs of the letters. The bottom row depicts the word upside down with the outward facing sides painted black, which allows the white neon light to reflect off the wall. This arrangement of skewed perspectives evokes the political turmoil caused by the election of America’s first black president and the country’s contemporaneous involvement in two wars.