The Guggenheim Acquires Work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

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Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Golden), 1995

In fall of 2008, the Guggenheim Museum acquired Felix Gonzalez-Torres's “Untitled” (Golden) through purchase and partial gift. Lauren Hinkson, Assistant Curator for Collections, describes the work:

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s (b. 1957, Guáimaro, Cuba; d. 1996, Miami) 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 emphemerality, 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.

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Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Golden), 1995. Strands of beads and hanging device, variable dimensions. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 2008.22. Installed at Felix Gonzalez-Torres: 2 Installationen, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, 1996. Photo: Thorsten Monschein. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York