Felix Gonzalez-Torres b. 1957, Guáimaro, Cuba; d. 1996, Miami
Strands of beads and plastic track
dimensions vary with installation
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, through prior gift of Solomon R. Guggenheim; The Art Institute of Chicago, through prior gift of Adeline Yates; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, through prior gifts of J. D. Zellerbach, Gardner Dailey, and an anonymous donor; partial gift of Andrea Rosen in honor of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, 2008
The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation / Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. Installation view: Paired, Gold: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Roni Horn, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 2, 2009–January 6, 2010. Photo: David Heald © SRGF
Felix Gonzalez-Torres's artworks often encourage viewers to perform a simple action like taking a candy from a mound on the floor or rolling up a sheet of paper from a stack. Yet despite their apparent simplicity and ephemerality, these acts can evoke far more complex social and political undertones. Conjuring the vocabulary of Minimalism and Post-Minimalism while reinvigorating it with open-ended content, Gonzalez-Torres leaves the construction of meaning to the participation of viewers, only subtly hinting at the autobiographical and incendiary in his untitled works. Conceived shortly before the artist's death, “Untitled” (Golden) (1995) extends across a space as a luminous curtain, shimmering with faceted tendrils of faux-gilded beads. The gentle confrontation of this golden screen provokes the tactile and sensory, inviting the viewer to transform its shape simply by walking through. This collective and public experience of doing so, however, belies the intimate nature of Gonzalez-Torres's other beaded curtain works, which often reference the organic and inorganic substances associated with battling AIDS. A kind of membrane, as pliable and permeable as the biological materials that compose the cells of the human body, “Untitled” (Golden) is a work of transitory passage—from life to death, public to private, the known to the unknown.