portrait of ross by felix gonzalez-torres
As I’ve gone on and on about this guy today, it’s easy to see why he’s one of my favorite conceptual artists.
At first glance it would appear to be the perfect parody of contemporary art. “Why, it’s only a pile of candy!” Those more inclined to actually interrogate it as a work of art might be more charitable. They might interpret the color, the texture. They might realize how the haphazard nature of the candy’s piling makes it’s final form mutable. And if they were bold enough, they might take a piece of the candy and eat it and enjoy it, and realize that this work of art gave the viewer some sort of tactile reaction and sense manipulation that a Monet or Martini or Mondrian couldn’t.
Ross was Gonzalez-Torres’s lover, who died of AIDS. When Ross was first diagnosed, his doctor told him his ideal weight was 155 pounds. Every day, the candy is weighed and 155 pounds is placed out. Here the candy IS love/happiness/sweetness/togetherness. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to enjoy a piece. It’s a giving, generous work of art; but with a dark edge; for as the candy gradually diminishes it symbolizes Ross’s weight loss due to AIDS. However, each morning the candy is weighed out and replenished,so that in this artwork (unlike life) Ross may live on forever.
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