The first show of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' work after his death seemed to be quite imperative and ideal. In January 1997 we exhibited a single work, "Untitled" (Beginning), 1994 – a primarily green beaded curtain that seemed to both fill the gallery space and dissect it. This was a work Felix had given to me as a gift before he died in January 1996 and I had never seen it installed. It was typically generous of him to predict that I would need this experience even more so after his death. The piece is so joyous, so hopeful, so full of life. Like so much of Felix's work it is a physical manifestation of the knowledge that there is a continuation. Felix's afterlife exists in his ongoing influence. To create a work called "Untitled" (Beginning) at a time when one might have focused on endings was typical of Felix and showing this work set the ground to give me the confidence to find a purposeful way to continue to exhibit his work in the gallery.
This current exhibition, the second since his death, is more ambitious because it is curatorial as opposed to a re-creation of a single piece or pre-existing installation of Felix's making. When I reviewed Felix's catalogue raisonné (published in 1997 by Cantz Verlag for the Sprengel Museum, Hanover) for the first time I was struck by the significance of the first few consecutive pages. Though it is probably the common perception that the paper stack pieces were Felix's first significant works, the catalogue raisonné became a physical record of what Felix considered to be the beginning of his oeuvre. What appears on these first few pages are works that primarily incorporate images of crowds – crowds at baseball games, crowds in parades, cut outs from the newspaper (most likely The New York Times since Felix referred to the newspaper, with slight irony, as his constant source of inspiration). Of course I knew all of these pieces intimately, but seeing them all together, page after page, – I realized just how central these works are. They are the beginning of Felix's investigation of what he considered to be the arbitrary separation between the public and private. I believe that one of Felix's goals was to help break down our feeling of separation from the world around us – or visa versa, our feeling of insignificance if we are not part of something else. I think Felix felt that by addressing these ambiguities we could more readily understand our potential impact as well as our responsibilities.
This exhibition presents the variation of works incorporating crowd images, accompanied by one particular body of stack pieces. Between the years of 1990 and 1991 Felix made four stack pieces, each incorporating newspaper clippings from The New York Times. For me there are numerous reasons for grouping these two bodies of work together. The sheets within each stack become a physical parallel to the individual within the crowd. What is the whole – the single sheet/person or the mass? The text clippings, like the crowd images, emphasize Felix's interest in the reiteration and the recontextualization of information in order to create an implosion of meaning. Both bodies of work also address Felix's relationship to the photograph, the reproduced image. But mostly, this exhibition is a personal indulgence – an opportunity for me to be able to see and experience certain works that I have never seen installed together before. As was most often the case for Felix, a gallery exhibition was an opportunity to see his own work physically manifested for the first time.
Published on the occasion of the first museum presentation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres's work in Asia at PLATEAU, and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, June 21 - 28 Sept. 28, 2012
Felix Gonzalez-Torres lived and worked resolutely according to his own idealistic principles, combining elements of Conceptual art, Minimalism, political activism, and poetic beauty in an ever-expanding arsenal of media, including public billboards, give-away piles of candy and posters, and ordinary objects--clocks, mirrors, light fixtures--used to startling effect. His work challenged the notions of public and private space, originality, authorship and--most significantly--the authoritative structures in which he and his viewers functioned. Editor Julie Ault has amassed the first comprehensive monograph to span Gonzalez-Torres's career. In the spirit of his method, she rethinks the very idea of what a monograph should be. The book, which places strong emphasis on the written word, contains newly commissioned texts by Robert Storr and Miwon Kwon, an introduction by Susan Cahill and an extended conversation with fellow artist Tim Rollins, as well as significant critical essays, exhibition statements, transcripts from lectures, personal correspondence, and writings that influenced Gonzalez-Torres and his work. Ample visual documentation adds another important layer of content. We see works not just in their completed state, but often in process, which for Gonzalez-Torres could mean the process of disappearing as viewers interacted with them.
Published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London, June 1 – July 16 2000.
Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Serpentine Gallery (June 2000)
Catalogue Raisonné in two volumes, published in conjunction with the posthumous 1997 traveling retrospective at Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Austria.
Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: Hatje Cantz Publishers (July 2, 1997)
Originally published to accompany the artist's solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1995, and reissued on the occasion of the 2007 Venice Biennale (June 1-November 21), where Felix Gonzalez-Torres would represent the United States.
Written by Nancy Spector in close consultation with the artist and reflecting and expanding upon his ideas at the time, Felix Gonzalez-Torres presents a thematic overview of the artist's rich, many-layered practice, including the signature paper stacks, candy spills, light strings and billboards--and demonstrates his continued resonance today.
Nancy Spector is Chief Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and U.S. Commissioner to the 2007 Venice Biennale.
Hardcover: 228 pages
Publisher: Guggenheim Museum (May 1, 2007)
Published on the occasion of the traveling exhibition, Felix Gonzalez-Torres at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. April 24 – June 19, 1994. Co-organized by Amanda Cruz, Ann Goldstein and Suzanne Ghez; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. June 16 – Sept. 11, 1994.; The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, IL., Oct. 2 – 6 Nov. 6, 1994
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Distributed Art Pub Inc (Dap) (June 2, 1994)