On the occasion of the recent announcement that David Zwirner and Andrea Rosen Gallery will co-represent the Estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, David Zwirner is pleased to present the gallery's first exhibition dedicated to the artist's influential work.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres is one of the most significant artists to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In its reduced formal vocabulary, conceptual rigor, and evocative use of everyday materials, the artist's work resonates with meaning that is at once specific and mutable; rigorous and generous; poetic and political.
The exhibition spans several bodies of work from throughout the artist's career, presented in a series of distinct installations in nine spaces on two floors of the gallery's 537 West 20th Street location. The installations range from intimate to expansive and respond to the physical architecture and the simultaneously private and public nature of the gallery. Together, in their radical openness to interventions of site, audience, and context, the works on view challenge perceived notions of what constitutes an exhibition space, a public, an artwork itself.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (American, born 1957 Cuba) began his art studies at the University of Puerto Rico before moving to New York City in 1979. There, he attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, first in 1981 and again in 1983. Gonzalez-Torres received his BFA from Pratt Institute, New York, in 1983 and his MFA from the International Center of Photography and New York University in 1987.
From 1987 to 1991, Gonzalez-Torres was a part of the artist collective Group Material, whose collaborative, politically-informed practice focused on community engagement and activist interventions. In 1988, he had his first one-man exhibitions, at the Rastovski Gallery, New York, INTAR Gallery, New York, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. His earliest billboard work, "Untitled" (1989), was installed at New York's Sheridan Square on the occassion of the twentieth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. In 1990, a solo presentation of Gonzalez- Torres's work served as the inaugural exhibition of the Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Traveling, a survey of the artist's work, was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 1994. The following year, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, organized a retrospective of his work, which traveled to the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and ARC- Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The artist participated in numerous group shows during his lifetime, including early presentations at Artists Space and White Columns in New York (1987 and 1988, respectively), the Whitney Biennial (1991), the Venice Biennale (1993), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago (both 1995).
In 1997, the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany, organized a posthumous solo exhibition and published a catalogue raisonné of the artist's work. The exhibition traveled to the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland and the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna. Further solo exhibitions of his work were held at such institutions as The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (1998); The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (1999-2000); El Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay (2000-2001); Serpentine Gallery, London (2000); Le Consortium, Dijon (2002); and Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2006). In 2007, Gonzalez-Torres was selected to represent the United States at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
More recently, in 2010-2011, WIELS Contemporary Art Center, Brussels, organized a six-part traveling retrospective, Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Specific Objects without Specific Form, which was also presented at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. At each institution, Elena Filipovic curated a retrospective version of the exhibition which was reconsidered midway through its run by a collaborating artist-curator: Danh Vo, Carol Bove, and Tino Sehgal, respectively. A publication documenting the exhibition was recently released by Koenig Books. Further exhibitions devoted to the artist's work have been held at PLATEAU and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2012); Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2015); and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2016).