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Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)

"Untitled" (Double Bloodworks)

Details
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)
"Untitled" (Double Bloodworks)
acrylic and graphite on canvas in two parts
overall: 14 x 26 in. (35.6 x 66 cm.)
each: 14 x 12 in. (35.6 x 30.5 cm)
Executed in 1992. (2)
Provenance
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Jennifer Flay, Paris
Private collection, Zurich
Anon. Sale; Christie's New York, 17 May 2001, lot 306
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
S. Pagé, ed., Passions Privées: Collections particuli©eres d'art moderne et contemporain en France, Paris, 1995, p. 660 (illstrated in color).
D. Elger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997, p. 112, no. 215 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Miami Art Museum, Marking Time: Moving Images, May-September 2005, n.p. (illstrated in color).

Lot Essay

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.


In Untitled (Double Bloodworks) Felix Gonzalez-Torres presents two identical, seemingly simple canvases that have been intimately paired together that depict graphite grids and single diagonal lines. The diagonal line bisects the grids on each respective canvas, which represents the artist's or his partner's waning T-cell blood count, the medical symptom of AIDS. Deliberately illusive, the single diagonal lines cross the square grids - whether they are descending or ascending is not made visually clear. Gonzalez-Torres executed seven other works on canvas or linen in the bloodwork series. In these works, the number of canvases in each piece corresponds to the actual number of days of the blood testing. The work represents not only a reflection of the artist's medical health, but also presents a visual remembrance of passing time.

Visually similar to the subtle and intimate works of Agnes Martin, Gonzalez-Torres explores light and form through the use of the grid pattern and the cool color palette. However this deceptively simple composition serves as a personal memoir for the artist, as well as a reflection on the transient nature of time that affects us all. Not merely a calculated, formal exercise this work is based on Gonzalez-Torres' life and explores the artist's sentiments towards his illness, but also depicts universal themes of time and memory. The grids and horizontal lines resemble medical charts and records and depict the artist's battle with AIDS, but like other works by Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Double Bloodwork) also stands as a remembrance or capturing of time, an underscoring theme of the artist's work. In this series, the canvases that correspond to the days of the week act as a marker of the passage of time-a resonant subject with universal significance. The depiction of the quick transience of time conveys a deeply emotional and resonant work. All at once the work depicts a social commentary, personal disclosure and a lyrical love letter. Untitled (Double Bloodworks) ultimately may be viewed as a tribute and a poetic memorial which each individuals' personal interpretation is validated. While the use of the grid can recall a medical chart or history, the grid is also seen in a variety of daily experiences like weather patterns or the stock market. While inspired by the medical charts that surrounded Gonzalez-Torres, this work stands not only for a personal reflection of health but a representation of the culmination of moments that make up our lives.

While representing the days during which a blood test occurs, the work is also a depiction of personal relationships. The pairing of these two identical canvases in such close proximity echoes a reoccurring theme in Gonzalez-Torres' works. The coupling of two identical objects references the existence of human interaction and companionship. Creating allusions to love, intimacy and desire, Gonzalez-Torres' works function as signs that generate many associations of human relationships and interactions. The coupling of pairs through simple gestures and objects, imitating human presence and closeness, appears often in the artist's work: two chairs placed side by side; two clocks that are both set at an identical moment in time reflect a sense of companionship and camaraderie, two pillows, rest by one another, ruffled by body imprints indicating a once shared bed, and two identical mirrors, reflect a couple as well as represent a couple. Through this pairing of objects and illustration of time, Gonzalez-Torres' Untitled (Double Bloodworks) portrays universal themes about human experiences.

In a catalogue for the artist's 1995 exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, curator Nancy Spector commented on Gonzalez-Torres' representation of pairs and couples in his work and said, "in Gonzalez-Torres' ideal world, people do not endure alone; they survive in pairs, as part of loving couples who age together, no longer in danger of premature separation caused by incurable and inexplicable disease. Here, bodily fulfillment refers to being in love, to existing in a state of togetherness, to constituting a community of two." (N. Spector, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, New York, 1995, p. 143)

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