Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in May 1994
Hanover, Sprengel Museum, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, June - August 1997
Villa Merkel, Galerie der Stadt Esslingen am Neckar, Fotografie als Handlung: 4th International Foto-Triennale, June - September 1998
San Francisco, Fraenkel Gallery, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, April - May 2004 (another example exhibited)
Seattle, Henry Art Gallery; West Palm Beach, Norton Museum of Art; Tampa Museum of Art; Chicago Cultural Center, Crosscurrents at Century's End: Selections from the Neuberger Berman Art Collection, June 2003 - June 2004, pl. XIX, p. 49, illustrated in color
Renate Wiehager, ed., Fotografie als Handlung [Photography as Concept]: 4th International Foto-Triennale; Esslingen, 1998, pp. 74 – 75, illustrated in color
Dietmar Elger, et al., eds., Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1997, p.133, illustrated in color
Nancy Spector, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, New York, 1995, p. 40, illustrated in color
The five images that comprise the present work, Felix Gonzalez-Torres's "Untitled" from 1994, depict a somber and expansive sky fragmented. The birds cluster like specks of pale dust; in two of the photographs, they fade to near invisibility. Gonzalez-Torres, an artist known for imbuing his stark imagery with visual metaphor, addresses here the idea of travel, both as a physical act of displacement – a transition from familiar to foreign – and as a reflection of progress, at once personal and cultural. The birds appear – uncannily – as at once static and dynamic, obviously flying but also floating. As Torres himself notes, "As with all artistic practices...[my work] is related to the act of leaving one place for another, one which proves perhaps better than the first" (As quoted from the press release for Gonzalez-Torres's individual exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, January – February 1990).
In one respect, these prints differ Gonzalez-Torres's more familiar works, which employ common objects like candy, paper and light- bulbs to suggest love and remembrance. His "Untitled" (Perfect Lovers), 1987- 1991, for example, features two clocks, hung side-by-side, that record time until inevitably falling out of synch. Similarly, piles of candy beg viewers to take a piece; to deplete the piece. Here, the work is quieter, subtler. The faint contrast between the frenetic birds and the misty sky suggests a permeability between being and surrounding.
At the same time, photography was central to Gonzalez-Torres. He was trained as a photographer and his entire oeuvre can be seen to have a relationship to photographic practice or theory. By returning to the ostensibly traditional format of framed, photographic prints during his career, Gonzalez-Torres extended his artistic practice, a significant aspect of which was his radical exploration of the boundaries of value and worth, uniqueness and the multiple.
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