Take a look at Glenn Ligon’s “Double America,” a work in neon and paint from 2012. Here, two neons are put together. Some letters are flipped, but not all are backwards. The artist references Caspar David Friedrich’s “Rückenfigur” paintings, or “back-figure” paintings. In these German romantic works, figures in the landscape have their backs to the viewer, contemplating an idealist landscape. How might Ligon’s “Double America” question the landscape of a country?
Glenn Ligon, “Double America,” 2012, neon and paint, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Agnes Gund