Leave feedback
Loading search results
About us
The Art Story Homepage Artists Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Felix Gonzalez-Torres Photo

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

American Conceptual, Post-Minimalist and Relational Aesthetics Artist

Movements and Styles: Post-Minimalism, Relational Aesthetics, Institutional Critique, Street and Graffiti Art, Conceptual Art, Postmodernism

Born: November, 26 1957 - Guaimaro, Cuba

Died: January 9, 1996 - Miami, Florida

Felix Gonzalez-Torres Timeline

"Without the public these works are nothing...I ask the public to help me, to take responsibility, to become part of my work, to join in."

Summary of Felix Gonzalez-Torres

As an openly gay man living through both the AIDS crisis and the extraordinary public politicization of art in the 1980s, Felix Gonzalez-Torres's groundbreaking installations are famous for their simplicity and affective impact, embedding poetic meditations on love and loss in the mundane material of everyday life. Although his career was brief, his legacy endures, particularly in political art and Relational Aesthetics, in which the audience is a necessary component, activating the work and realizing its meaning. Generous, austere, and often intended to be endlessly reproducible, his artwork continues to influence audiences in subtle but persistent ways.

Key Ideas

Gonzalez-Torres's extraordinary contribution to contemporary art was to bring personal history and politics to the familiar forms of Minimalism and Conceptualism. Cube-like stacks of paper, strings of light, textual fragments, and the simple shapes of clocks, cellophane candies, and clouds were imbued with references to current events, including gay rights, gun violence, and the AIDS crisis.
The portrait was an important genre for Gonzalez-Torres, one that allowed him to undermine the aesthetic autonomy of Minimalism. He used a system of parenthetic titles for otherwise "Untitled" works that point the viewer toward physical or personal associations the artist had with his various subjects. The idea of his installations as abstract portraits underscores the overall intimacy of his art by emphasizing his personal relationships with the people or places that inspired each particular work.
Gonzalez-Torres wanted his work to be widely disseminated and he believed it was not fully realized without the participation of the viewer. "Without the public these works are nothing...I ask the public to help me, to take responsibility, to become part of my work, to join in." Although some of these ideas had emerged in the manifestos of movements like Dada, Surrealism, and the Happenings of the 1960s, Gonzalez-Torres's total openness to the viewer inaugurated a new era in the relationship between the artist and the audience.
He transformed everyday objects such as candies and photocopies, often in installations that allow visitors to take these objects with them when they leave. These works radically model the democratic circulation of ideas and art, violating boundaries between public and private spaces, and extending the experience of his art beyond the gallery.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres Photo

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was born in Guaimaro, Cuba in 1957, the third of four children. He and his sister Gloria relocated that year to an orphanage in Madrid, Spain before eventually settling in Puerto Rico with their uncle. He graduated from Colegio San Jorge in 1976, and began to take art classes at the University of Puerto Rico while becoming involved in the local art scene.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Interactive chart with Felix Gonzalez-Torres's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart
Show influences

Artists

Donald JuddDonald Judd
Carl AndreCarl Andre
Barbara KrugerBarbara Kruger
Jenny HolzerJenny Holzer
Joseph KosuthJoseph Kosuth

Personal Contacts

Roni HornRoni Horn
Julie AultJulie Ault
Doug Ashford
Tim Rollins
Jim Hodges

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Pop ArtPop Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Years Worked: 1980s - 1996
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Julie AultJulie Ault

Personal Contacts

Doug Ashford
Tim Rollins
Jim Hodges
General Idea

Movements

Relational AestheticsRelational Aesthetics
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 24 Apr 2017. Updated and modified regularly. Information
[Accessed ]