"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)

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"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)
"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.jpg
A man taking a piece from the work.
ArtistFélix González-Torres
Year1991
Weight175 pounds (79 kg)
LocationArt Institute of Chicago

"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) is a work of art produced by Félix González-Torres in 1991, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.[1] It consists of a spilled pile of candies. Dimensions vary with installation, however it ideally weighs 175 pounds (79 kg), per González-Torres' vision.[2] Upon viewing, patrons are encouraged to take a piece of the candy.

Background[edit]

In 1988, González-Torres' partner Ross Laycock was diagnosed with AIDS, and died of it the same year as "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)'s creation.[3][4][a] The piece serves as an "allegorical portrait," of Laycock's life.[3]

Description and showcase[edit]

"Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) consists of a pile of candies individually wrapped in multicolor cellophane.[2] When displayed, the pile of candies should ideally weigh 175 pounds (79 kg)—Laycock's body weight when healthy.[3] Viewers are encouraged to take a piece and the artwork's owner are to decide if it will be replenished.[3] Photos are discouraged, most likely due to the subject matter at hand.[5]

Art handlers at the Art Institute of Chicago recalled that "During very busy periods, [we] may replenish the pile twice weekly, with approximately 45 pounds being added to the sculpture."[3] "On average, we add 15 or 20 pounds weekly." Sometimes the handlers would add candies to rebalance the piece's color.[3]

As of 2019 the piece is featured in multiple art museums around the world.[6]

From the summer of 2018 to September 29, 2022, the Art Institute of Chicago removed all mention of Ross Laycock, homosexuality, and AIDS from the label accompanying the piece. The label at the time applauded Gonzales-Torres' "uncanny ability to produce elegant and unrestrained sculptural forms out of common materials" and equates the 175 lbs of candy to the "average weight of an adult male". A new placard was added which provided this context again after this change was decried by a letter in The Windy City Times[7] and by a viral Tweet.[8]

Interpretations[edit]

The Art Story Foundation viewed the candy-eating aspect as "[one becoming] complicit in the disappearing process - akin to the years-long public health crisis of HIV/AIDS."[9] Lauren Weinberg of Time Out Chicago interpreted it similarly: "the diminishment recalls how he wasted away before dying."[3]

Legacy[edit]

The Art Story Foundation called "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) "one of González-Torres's most recognizable works."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gonzalez-Torres, Felix (1991). ""Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  2. ^ a b Staff, Public Delivery (2016-11-16). "Why did Félix González-Torres put free candy in a museum?". Public Delivery. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Weinberg, Lauren (March 19, 2013). "Art Institute candy sculpture | What's up with that?". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  4. ^ a b Diamond, Shawn (2016). "Requiem for the shadows: Poetry, spirituality, and future memory in the light strings of Felix Gonzalez-Torres". Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Eckardt, Stephanie (March 13, 2016). "Felix Gonzalez-Torres's Candy Installation at the Met Breuer". W. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  6. ^ Ankus, Justin (November 17, 2019). ""Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) Felix Gonzalez-Torres | Urban Splatter". Urban Splatter. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  7. ^ Thriffiley, Zac (28 September 2022). "A concerning change at the Art Institute". Letter. Windy City Times.
  8. ^ Velie, Elaine (3 October 2022). "Art Institute of Chicago Erased AIDS From a Label, Then Quietly Added It Back". Hyperallergic.
  9. ^ a b "Gonzalez-Torres Artworks & Famous Paintings". The Art Story. Archived from the original on 2020-07-13. Retrieved 2020-07-17.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Laycock was likely feeling the effects of HIV before his diagnosis.[4]