Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present a survey of work by the influential Cuban-born American artist FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES (1957-1996). The range of this artist’s poetic touch across several media will be evident in his photostats, billboard, candy spill, “stack,” and light-string, several of which have been borrowed from private and institutional collections in the U.S. and Germany.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was not interested in making art that allowed the viewer to remain a spectator. His work offers the viewer an opportunity to contribute his or her own experiences, and to participate in the meaning of the work. In Untitled (Lover Boys), 1991, (on loan from the Goetz Collection, Munich), an “endless” supply of candy lies shimmering on the gallery floor, gathered together at an ideal weight of 355 pounds – alluding to the combined weight of Gonzalez-Torres and his partner. Without any sign stating so, the viewer is invited to take and eat a piece of candy. Every night the “spill” is replenished and lives on in a constant cycle of loss and regeneration. In Untitled (Republican Years), 1992, (from the collection of the Sprengel Museum, Hannover), a stack of paper, on which only a pair of black lines borders the perfect rectangle, sits on the otherwise empty floor. The viewer has the choice to take a sheet of paper or leave it behind. Gonzalez-Torres understood that the audience’s ability to connect physically to his work gave it additional emotional and seductive force.
The photostat works, four of which will be exhibited, consist of two lines of white text, words and associated dates along the bottom of the black surface of the photostat paper. For each viewer, the dates and words will conjure up different reactions or memories. For Gonzalez-Torres, public events became private experiences and vice versa. In Untitled (Tim Hotel), 1992, a single electrical cord holding 42 light bulbs hangs from a nail. One of 24 light-string works made during the artist’s brief career, this piece poetically memorializes one of 24 important events in his life, transforming an otherwise ordinary object into something full of personal meaning.
Gonzalez-Torres’ work was the focus of several major museum solo exhibitions in his lifetime and after his death. Retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1995), the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany (1997) and the Serpentine Gallery in London (2000).