This exhibition will include two works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres that have never been publicly exhibited. One is a small early work, "Untitled"(Key West Weekend), 1989, which is comprised of a black and white puzzle of a bird in the sky that sits on top of a clear Plexiglas pedestal. This is the first piece in which Gonzalez-Torres used the image of a bird. The second work in the exhibition, "Untitled", 1995, is a billboard displayed in both the gallery, as well as in twenty four outdoor billboard locations throughout the boroughs of New York City. This is the last work in which Gonzalez-Torres used the image of a bird in a vast sky, as well as the last piece registered in his inventory.
Gonzalez-Torres took hundreds of photographs of birds soaring. Perhaps the taking of these pictures was the most consistent practice throughout the eleven years in which he made the work that he considered the basis of his oeuvre. From the hundreds of photographs taken, images of birds in the sky purposefully only appeared in just 16 works. In addition, if someone were to describe Gonzalez-Torres' work, the images of birds in the sky would definitely not be the first thing to come to one's mind, although images of this nature are the most consistent subject in all of Gonzalez-Torres' work. These images traverse many of Gonzalez-Torres' bodies of work, from stack pieces to puzzles and billboard pieces to series of framed photographs.
For the last exhibition Gonzalez-Torres planned for my gallery before his death in 1996, he chose to show a room full of photographs of birds in the sky. Contrary to what the public had grown to expect, in this exhibition there were no elements to the work that could be taken away from this show or walked through – no ethereal objects. Gonzalez-Torres was always interested in increasing meaning by subverting the expected. Transient objects had become expected of Gonzalez-Torres. He switched back to the wall – to an exhibition of a series of fourteen classically framed and hung black and white photographs of birds, in this case, vultures. Felix knew this would be his last show.
So much of Felix's work seems to deal with a fleeting moment. So often it seems to be interpreted or misinterpreted as being about loss, the inability to hold on to these moments. But Felix was endlessly optimistic. There wasn't just loss. That these moments exist or existed meant that they had an effect and perhaps, but not necessarily, that they could re-occur. So much of Felix's work helps us realize that change and the seemingly fleeting can create infinite growth.
The outdoor billboard project is in association with, and made possible by, the generous support of Creative 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)