Art Exhibition: Félix González-Torres’ “Specific Objects without Specific Form”

Fondation Beyeler is hosting part of a traveling retrospective paying tribute to Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957 – 1996). The foundation calls him “one of the most influential artists of his generation.” Curated by Elena Filipovic, the exhibition opened on May 22. In late July, it will be re-installed by the artist Carol Bove whose own practice has been highly influenced by Gonzalez-Torres. The show will be on view until August 29, 2010. The Beyeler Foundation is located at Baselstrasse 101 Riehen/Basel CH-4125, Switzerland.

This exhibition was organized by the WIELS Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels in collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, and the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation in New York. Fondation Beyeler describes: “Amongst the most famous artworks of the Cuban-American artist are his piles of candy and paper stacks from which viewers are allowed to take away a part. These, like so many of his other artworks, use everyday objects as a starting point – clocks, mirrors, beaded curtains, or light fixtures – to transform the ordinary into something formally beautiful, but also emotive and socially critical. A selection of iconic and less known sculptures, paintings, photographic works and public art projects from the artist’s short but prolific career are interspersed throughout the permanent collection, lower galleries, as well as marginal and unexpected locations.”

Gonzalez-Torres “combined 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.”

Gonzalez-Torres (November 26, 1957-January 9, 1996) was a Cuban artist who left Cuba at age 14 and grew up in Puerto Rico. He studied at the University of Puerto Rico and then moved to New York City to pursue graduate studies at the International Center of Photography. Devoted to teaching, he served as a visiting artist at a number of universities. Following his first solo exhibition at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in 1990, Gonzalez-Torres’s career ascended quickly, and he became one of the rising stars of the art world. The artist died of AIDS on January 9, 1996, in Miami Beach. Retrospectives of his works have been exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, 1995), the Sprengel Museum (Germany, 1997), and the Serpentine Gallery (London, 2000).

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