American, born in Cuba, 1957–1996
“Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991
Multicolored candies, individually wrapped in cellophane, ideal weight 175 lbs
The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Donna and Howard Stone Courtesy the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation.
This work is one of a series of similar candy pieces by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, many of which are conceived in part as portraits. When first placed on view, the pile of candy weighs 175 pounds—a sum equivalent to the healthy body weight of the artist’s lover before he died from AIDS. Like all of Gonzalez-Torres’s candy piles, over the course of this exhibition “Untitled” Portrait of Ross in L.A. (1990) will go through a cycle of loss and renewal: depleted as viewers take and eat pieces of the candy, replenished when the museum staff add new candy to the pile, and then depleted again. These gestures of participation and consumption become part of the work itself, and are as intrinsic to its poetics, politics, and potential meanings as the beauty of the sparkling pile of candy. You are invited to absorb this art not only by seeing, feeling, and thinking but also through touching, smelling, and tasting.