Collection 1970s–Present


Objects of Desire



Glenn Ligon. Warm Broad Glow. 2005. © Glenn Ligon; courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, New York, Thomas Dane, London, and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris Photo: Thomas Barratt
  • MoMA, Floor 2, 209 The David Geffen Wing

“I think the question of readability and unreadability projected onto a body is an experience all of us have to think about and understand,” the artist Glenn Ligon has reflected. Touching on themes of legibility and identity, the artworks in this gallery pose the question: What roles do desire and history play in how we understand and recognize each other?

Drawing from literary texts, personal narratives, and references from the past, the artists on view here transform their sources to consider the promise of human relationships and reflect on the pain of fraught histories— particularly around Blackness. These acts of transformation open up a spectrum of experiences, as well as invite viewers to bring their own desires to the experience of looking. “What Black people have always done is taken what’s there and turned it,” Ligon has said. “Taking something and making it joyous.”

Organized by Lanka Tattersall, Laurenz Foundation Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, with Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.

5 works online


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].