Massimo De Carlo, Hauser & Wirth, and Andrea Rosen Gallery are delighted to announce a three-part exhibition of the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Curated by artists Julie Ault and Roni Horn, the exhibition will be on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Massimo De Carlo, Milan; and Hauser & Wirth, London in May, June, and July 2016. This exhibition will be the first solo presentation of the artist’s work in Milan since an exhibition at Massimo De Carlo in 1991 and the first in London since the artist’s survey at the Serpentine in 2000. Over the last decade, Andrea Rosen Gallery has been dedicated to a series of two-person exhibitions situating Gonzalez-Torres’s work with artists including Joseph Kosuth, Agnes Martin, On Kawara, and Roni Horn, and this will be the first one-person show at the gallery since 2000.
Each venue of the exhibition will focus on a dialogue within an essential body of Gonzalez-Torres’s oeuvre. The experience of each of the three venues is intended to be simultaneously autonomous as well as elements of a whole. As curators take on the rights and responsibilities to make choices in and around the manifestation and installation of Gonzalez-Torres’s work, every exhibition provides the opportunity for a more expansive, complex conceptualization of the artist’s practice rather than an attempt to present (or preserve) a singular concrete or “correct” interpretation of the work. The profound nature of the curators’ specific choices may encourage viewers to project the other possibilities of exhibitions that the uniquely open and transformative nature of Gonzalez-Torres’s work allows.
Each curator of a Gonzalez-Torres exhibition, whether a new scholar or an old friend, is part of an ongoing trajectory of perspectives. The particular closeness of Ault and Horn to both the fluidity and specificity of Gonzalez-Torres’s working processes during his lifetime is an invaluable resource and contribution to the understanding of the range of methodologies, open-endedness, and rigor of Gonzalez-Torres’s work.
“The failure of conceptual art is actually its success. Because we, in the next generation, took those strategies and didn’t worry if it looked like art or not, that was their business . . . So I do believe in looking back and going through school reading books. You learn from these people. Then, hopefully, you try to make it, not better (because you can't make it better), but you make it in a way that makes sense. Like the Don Quixote of Pierre Menard by Borges; it’s exactly the same thing but it’s better because it’s right now. It was written with a history of now . . . ”
– Felix Gonzalez-Torres, interview with Robert Storr, ArtPress, 1995.
Some information about Felix Gonzalez-Torres “portrait” works:
There are 16 portrait works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which were made between 1989 and 1994. These works consist of events and their corresponding dates. All of the portrait works are titled “Untitled” and most have a parenthetical title outside of the quotation makes naming the original subject. The first portrait “Untitled”, 1989 was the artist’s own portrait, originally exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The second portrait was the first commissioned work, “Untitled” (Portrait of the Wongs), 1991. The original subjects of these works ranged from individuals, couples, families, institutions, and a corporation. While most of these portraits were commissioned works, a few were also gifts from Gonzalez-Torres to the original subject.
Individuals often tend to define their identity through remembrances of personal events. However, Gonzalez-Torres questioned why we might consider private events to be more formative or revealing than public events. What is this arbitrary separation we perceive between the public and the private? After receiving the subjects’ suggestions for inclusion, Gonzalez-Torres interjected additional events and corresponding dates that afforded the owner the opportunity to expand their self-perception and the responsibility to think about themselves in a broader way, both in terms of how we are affected by the world around us but also how our identities are not purely determined and defined between the dates of our birth and death.
An essential parameter of these portrait works is that the owner of the work has the right to change the content of their portraits at any time by deciding to add and/or subtract events and their dates. It is important to note that this is the right and responsibility of the current owner, who may not necessarily be the original owner or individual or entity named in the parenthetical portion of the title. When a portrait work is lent to an exhibition, the owner has the right to decide if they lend the right to the borrower to make changes, additions and/or subtractions.
These works radically uproot the assumption that if one could create an unchanging definition of oneself, we could sustain a sense of permanence. As works that transform both their form and content—their situation within architecture at each manifestation, as well the right and responsibility of owners to add and subtract constituting dates—Gonzalez-Torres’s portrait works highlight an important notion in his work that the only thing permanent is change. It is thereby through the succession of manifestations, and their respective states of change, that development of the work and reflection upon personhood is evidenced.
Four inherent features of 'portrait' works specified by Gonzalez-Torres were:
1. The typeface is Trump Medieval Bold Italic
2. All portrait works were intended to be placed high on the wall- where the ceiling meets the wall or at frieze height
3. In a text size of readable but distant proportion
4. In some works, Gonzalez-Torres defined the color of the text, in others he specified an ideal color but left the decision to the owner, and in others left the color undefined. In some portraits there was an option for a band of color behind the text, in some cases this color was defined by Gonzalez-Torres, but in most cases it was to the owner’s choosing