Felix Gonzalez-Torres was a Cuban-born American artist known for his landmark installations that transform humble objects into solemn meditations on death and intimacy. González-Torres’s openly gay sexual orientation is often seen as influential in his work as an artist.
González-Torres was known for employing everyday materials such as stacks of paper, puzzles, strings of lights, beads, and a reduced aesthetic vocabulary reminiscent of Minimalism and Conceptual art, to address themes such as love and loss, sickness and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality, Gonzalez-Torres asked viewers to participate in establishing meaning in his works.
Working during the height of the AIDS crisis, he conveyed the loss of his partner, Ross Laycock, through a variety of emotionally charged objects and in one of his most poignant works, Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA), viewers are invited to take candy from a 175 pound pile — his partner’s healthy body weight — that is continuously replenished.
In 1987, he joined Group Material, a New York-based group of artists who worked collaboratively, adhering to principles of cultural activism and community education. Today, his work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan New York and MoCA Los Angeles, among many others.