Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)
Untitled (L.A.) 1991
Green candies individually wrapped in cellophane, endless supply
Overall dimensions vary, ideal weight is 50 pounds
Jointly owned by ArtBridges and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
This work will be on exhibit at the Rahr-West Art Museum from June 2 through September 13, 2020 thanks to the support of ArtBridges, an organization dedicated to expanding access to American Art.
As one of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s powerful candy-spill works, Untitled (L.A.) finds beauty in the everyday by transforming a bounty of green, cellophane-wrapped candies into a dazzling arrangement of color, form, and texture. Viewers are encouraged to take and taste the candy, activating the work in a way that suggests a wide range of profound meanings. The participation of each viewer creates a moment of engagement that is sensory and personal. The intimate nature and fluctuating structure of Gonzalez-Torres’s candy works are often interpreted as being related to tragedy in the artist’s private life.
Untitled (L.A.) was created in 1991, the same year that Gonzalez-Torres’s beloved partner Ross Laycock lost his life due to an AIDS-related illness. The gradual depletion and replenishment of Gonzales-Torres’s candy-spills has been seen as metaphorical, seeming to represent the deterioration of a human body ravaged by illness. At the same time, it can also be seen as a type of immortality generated through ritual remembrance and continual recreation. However, Gonzalez-Torres avoided assigning explicit interpretations to his candy works, preferring them to remain available for all to experience in a personal way.
In His Own Words
I don’t want to make art just for the people who can read Fredric Jameson sitting upright on a Mackintosh chair. I want to make art for people who watch The Golden Girls and sit in a big, brown, La-Z-Boy Chair. They’re part of my public too, I hope.
~Felix Gonzalez-Torres on who he makes art for
I see the practice of teaching as an integral part of my work. Teaching for me is a form of cultural activism, a form of creative change at a very basic level, and it is a way of redeeming the profession of art teaching. As a student you always got these teachers telling you what is right and what is wrong without any doubt or questioning. I want my students to learn the tools of critical thought and to always doubt, to learn how to doubt themselves and to be self-critical. Only through acts of self-criticism are we able to discern which work is better or worse, hopefully.
~Felix Gonzalez-Torres on teaching
Articles and Information
Felix Gonzalez-Torres in Contemporary News
LBTGQ Resources in Manitowoc County
Much of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work dealt with his identify as a gay man. There are resources available to you and your family if you or someone you love is struggling with their identity.
PFLAG is a national organization that promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.
The local Chapter of PFLAG meets the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 pm. More information can be found on their website.