Felix Gonzalez-Torres


    • Male
    • Installation


    About the artist

    1957: Born in Güaimaro
    1996: Died in Miami due to AIDS related complications.

    González-Torres was known for his quiet, minimal installations and sculptures. Using materials such as strings of lightbulbs, clocks, stacks of paper, or packaged hard candies, his work is sometimes considered a reflection of his experience with AIDS. In 1987 he joined Group Material, a New York-based group of artists whose intention was to work collaboratively, adhering to principles of cultural activism and community education.Along with the other members of the group — Doug Ashford, Julie Ault, Karen Ramspacher, and Tim Rollins — González-Torres was invited by the MATRIX Gallery at theBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archivein 1989 to deal with the subject of AIDS.

    All of González-Torres' works, with few exceptions, are entitled "Untitled" in quotation marks, sometimes followed by parenthetical title. (This was an intentional titling scheme by the artist). Of González-Torres’s nineteen candy pieces, only six, by their parenthetical titles and ideal weights, can be readily interpreted as portraits. Of these two are double portraits of the artist and his lover, Ross Laycock; two are portraits of Ross alone; one is a portrait of Felix’s deceased father; and "Untitled" (Portrait of Marcel Brient) (1992), a portrait of the artist’s close friend, French collector Marcel Brient.

    The most pervasive reading of González-Torres's work takes the processes his works undergo (lightbulbs expiring, piles of candies dispersing, etc.) as metaphor for the process of dying. However, many have seen the works also representing the continuation of life with the possibility of regeneration (replacing bulbs, replenishing stacks or candies).Other readings include the issue of public versus private, identity, and participation in contemporary art.

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