Félix González Torres

Félix González Torres (1957-1996) was a Cuban-American artist best known for his minimalist conceptual portraits featuring stacks of paper, beaded curtains, and mounds of colourful candies. He was also part of the artist collective Group Material.

“In the work of Félix González Torres, beauty is also a life force, affirming the presence of intense intimacy, closeness, our capacity to know love, face death, and live with ongoing unreconciled grief.”

bell hooks, “subversive beauty: new modes of contestation” (1994)

Key Works:

“Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) (1991)

“Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) (1991) – Two identical clocks hanging side by side, touching, perfectly in sync with each other.

“Time is something that scares me… or used to. The piece I made with the ctwo clocks was the scariest thing I have ever done. I wanted to face it. I wanted those two clocks right in front of me, ticking. [….] The idea of pieces being endless happened because at that point I was losing someone very important.”

Félix González Torres, “All the Time in the World” (1991)
“Untitled” (1991)

“Untitled” (1991) – A billboard featuring a photograph of an unmade made, drawing attention to the absence of the two bodies who had previously occupied it.

“Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991)

“Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991) – A mound of candies individually wrapped in multicoloured cellophane. The mound weighs 175 lbs – the average weight of Torres’ partner, Ross – but this weight drops as gallery visitors are encouraged to take candies home with them. Portrait of Ross in L.A. is a conceptual representation of Ross and his body as he was dying of AIDS-related complications; it’s a portrait of loss and the experience of grief. As the mass of the mound diminishes, gallery staff replenish the candies back to 175lbs, and the cycle begins again until the exhibition of the work is over (or for an implied eternity).

“Untitled” (Loverboys) 1991

“Untitled” (Loverboys) (1991) – A mound of blue and white candies individually wrapped in clear cellophane. This mound weighs approximately the combined weight of Torres and Ross. Again, gallery visitors are encouraged to take candies home with them, and gallery staff replenish the mound. With the two bodies together, Loverboys is less a meditation on loss and grief, and more about desire and consumption.

Torres and a cat

Works Cited
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ed. Julie Ault. Steidl Publishers. 2006.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *