INDEXMy highlight of 2015 — the list in fullRead more
It is not often that you are able to eat a work of art, and my highlight of the year involved just that. The work in question is a Felix Gonzalez-Torres ‘candy piece’, “Untitled” (L.A.), has an ideal weight of 22.7kg (50lbs) and was recently installed with 100 pounds of green, cube-shaped candy in clear cellophane wrapping installed on the floor in a rectangular shape.
Visitors were encouraged to interact with the piece by picking up and eating a piece of candy, contributing to the depletion of the work over time. In an almost social experiment, some visitors walked right past the work, while excited children took handfuls, defying the preciousness of art in an exhibition setting.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996), "Untitled" (L.A.), 1991. Green candies individually wrapped in cellophane, endless supply. Installation view at Christie’s New York, November 2015. Overall dimensions vary with installation. Ideal weight: 50 lbs. (22.7 kg). Estimate: $5,000,000–7,000,000. Sold for $7,669,000 on 10 November at Christie’s New York. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
What fascinates me about this work is its dual nature; at first glance, what may seem like a festive sweet treat organised in a quasi-minimalist layout in actuality is a poignant commentary on life, death and rebirth that transcends the period in which it was created.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres was an American artist, active in the 1980s and 1990s in New York. The artist was a victim of AIDS, which eventually took his life in 1996. He created his candy pieces within this context, often naming the works after friends or places.
Like a living, breathing person, the work wastes away over time. Thus, the simple, everyday material of candy becomes imbued with questions of identity and sexuality, and even more broadly of love and loss. To me, the beauty in the piece lies in its endless ability to be replenished, offering a dimension of hope to which we all can relate when faced with the reality of the human condition.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (L.A.) was offered in our Post-War and Contemporary Evening sale in November 2015, where it achieved an impressive $7,669,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $5,000,000–7,000,000, and now stands as the world auction record for the artist.
Main image at top: Installation view, Christie's New York, November 2015
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