At first glance, ’s
1991 work “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)
appears to be nothing more than a 175-pound glistening pile of candy. But the work’s allure effectively causes its own destruction: viewers may pluck from the heap of sweets, which could be seen as a metaphor for the impact on the human body of the devastating AIDS epidemic that swept through the ’80s and ’90s, when the piece was first staged.
Though the artist left his work open to interpretation, Gonzalez-Torres is thought by some to have created the piece in tribute to his late lover, Ross Laycock, who fought a long battle against the devastating syndrome. The artist stipulated that exhibition staff could replenish the pile at their discretion, to maintain a weight of175 pounds.
Judy Chicago, “Atmospheres,” 1968–74