As the owner is an integral part of this work, it is the artist's intention that a new Certificate of Authenticity and Ownership is issued stating the new owner's name, in addition to the current Certificate of Authenticity and Ownership which accompanies this work. The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation will provide this new certificate at no charge. The candies used to exhibit the work may vary depending on the interpretation of the specific, yet open ended parameters of the work and the availability of materials.
The rich array of hauntingly-beautiful work that Felix Gonzalez-Torres created during his brief, but brilliant nine-year career is nothing short of staggering. In this, one of his popular spilled-candy pieces, an ideal wieght of 22.7kg (or 50lbs) of shiny cellophane-wrapped candy is dispersed upon the gallery floor. A shimmering arrangement of color, texture and form, “Untitled” (L.A.) sparkles and reflects the surrounding ambient light, while its restrained palette and sculptural form cleverly invokes the rigid geometries of Minimalism. Viewers may participate in the work by choosing a candy for themselves, and the structure of the piece gradually evolves over time as the amount of candy changes. Created in 1991, “Untitled” (L.A.) is one of the artist’s most popular works but also deeply personal, as it was created the same year that the artist’s beloved partner, Ross Laycock, passed away from an AIDS-related illness. A poignant, metaphorical work, “Untitled” (L.A.) evokes the fragility of life and the artist’s remarkable talent for creating joy in a moment of sorrow.
Arranged in heaps upon the floor, mounded into corners or spilled into rivers of shimmering, sparkly color, these wrapped candies draw the viewer in by nature of their shiny material and tactile quality. In “Untitled” (L.A.), the artist creates a gleaming tapestry, as layer upon layer of shiny-wrapped cellophane candies sparkle and reflect the surrounding light. The seductive appearance of the shiny candy wrappers appeals to our magpie sensibilities, luring the viewer in with the shimmering promise of its delicious contents. With a childlike sense of wonder, the viewer cannot help but break the taboo of art’s ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ decree. Indeed, the effect of reaching out to grab a wrapped candy piece is exhilarating. The viewer, and in this case participant, delights in the particular crunchy crackle of the cellophane as it’s unfolded and the sweetness of the candy as it dissolves upon the tongue. This act of participation is a sensual, shared experience.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ works of uncompromising beauty and simplicity—including light strings, candy spills, paper stacks, beaded curtains and text-based portraiture—transform the everyday into profound meditations on love and loss. Whether executed as a glimmering floor sculpture as in the present work or a simple string of lights pooling on the floor, his elegant forms evoke the precedent of Minimalist sculpture but are imbued with poetic intimacy. Both pieces are open-ended and invite viewers to participate in their realization by either ingesting a piece of candy or replacing a dying light bulb. A beaded curtain, for instance, offers a pleasurable and sensory interaction with materials. Similarly, light bulbs and candy evoke festive celebration but here are also metaphors for mortality—bulbs burn out, candy is consumed.
Much of the artist’s work, from his stacked-paper pieces to the spilled-candy works, visually mimic the restrained geometries of Minimalism, especially the scatter pieces of Carl Andre or the stacked forms of Donald Judd. Indeed, the artist’s work has often been described as Post-Minimalist, since it derives much of its visual and formal rigor from Minimalism, yet refuses to operate within its established set of parameters. Conversely, Gonzalez-Torres’ work energizes and activates the hushed rigor of Minimalist sculpture, invoking the viewer’s own body and allowing his forms to gradually lose their shape as time wears on.
In “Untitled” (L.A.), viewers are invited to literally chip away at the integrity of the piece and the formal geometry of its original arrangement slowly withers away. One interpretation of this is a bodily connection to the work that becomes more pronounced as the candy is removed. Like the effects of the body that’s been ravaged by disease, or the sands of an hourglass that fall away toward emptiness, “Untitled” (L.A.) invokes the fleeting nature of life and its inevitable decay, a concept that must have weighed on the artist given his own HIV-positive status. However, as the work can be replenished at any point, it also becomes about perpetuation and change, as much as it is about loss. The shimmering beauty of the cellophane-wrapped candies is hauntingly beautiful, and the participatory nature of the piece is nothing short of profound. Like a million tiny, wrapped-up gifts, these delicate and precious candies are the lasting reminder of the artist’s triumphant spirit, of the enduring capacity of joy in the face of unbearable loss.