Felix Gonzalez-Torres; Commemorating a Lover with AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF CANDY

A few weeks ago, this really cool woman, Pat, from my painting class at the Museum of Modern Art told me about  a new show at the MOMA that included a work made entirely of candy. Pat said people were supposed to take the candy, but, most were too afraid to.

Candyfreak that I am, I hightailed it up to the exhibit “I am Still Alive” on the third floor to track down this candy art.  Sure enough, I found the work, called “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA)” by the artist, Felix Gonzalez-Torres. It was  a huge heap of red, white and blue wrapped hard candies, piled into a pyramid shape in a corner of the room.

There was a group of people standing around the candy pile and a guard was telling them to take some, but no one moved, so I took some and then everyone else did.  I thought that maybe the work was about how it felt to violate the universal taboo of touching art in museums, (Pat had said that people actually gasped when she took some candy) but, I was wrong.

After some research at the artists’s website, I learned  that the piece is about the artist’s lover, Ross, who died of AIDS in 1991.  The candy pile is meant to start each day at  Ross’ pre-AIDS weight and as people take the candy, the pile loses weight,  like the weight loss caused by the disease. The pile is meant to be replenished when it goes too low – and thus Ross’ life and death are replicated  in a continuous loop.  An exquisite, heartbreaking work of art that honors a beloved decedent.

Gonzalez-Torres (who was originally from Cuba) died from AIDS himself in 1996, but, the work has been presented in museums and galleries all over the world since then.  Each museum chooses the types of candy to use.  Cool Pat saw the piece in Philly, where they used individually wrapped pieces of red licorice and she also saw it at the Guggenheim here in New York City, where they changed the type of candy each day!

The piece will be up at the MOMA until September 2011. Go.


2 Responses to “Felix Gonzalez-Torres; Commemorating a Lover with AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF CANDY”

  1. 1 HealthierUJunction (HUJ) April 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Wow. That sounds so moving. It is wonderful that something like that continues and they both continue life through this exhibit. Thank you so much for sharing as I will like for this type of thing in our Art Museums.

  1. 1 Museum Myth Monday: I Must Be Looking At It Wrong | Utah Museum of Fine Arts Trackback on April 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

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