52nd International Exhibition of Art
Felix Gonzalez-Torres: America
Organized by: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Commissioner: Nancy Spector
Only the second artist to posthumously represent the United States (Robert Smithson was chosen in 1982), Gonzalez-Torres’ exhibition brought together key examples of the artist’s work in and around the US Pavilion to create a coherent installation focused on the artist’s optimistic but critical relationship to his adoptive culture. The exhibition presented the largest and final lightbulb string, “Untitled” (America), 1994; paper stacks; a suite of thirteen black-and-white, framed photographs that documents the inventory of idealized (male) roles inscribed in tribute to Theodore Roosevelt on the exterior façade of the American Museum of Natural History in New York; a selection of early photostats; “Untitled” (Public Opinion), 1991, a large carpet of black licorice candies that intimates the complexities of public consensus even as it offers itself to gallery visitors, endlessly distributing itself into the world at large; an indoor billboard of a lone bird soaring through an open sky; the single string of light bulbs, “Untitled” (Leaves of Grass), 1993.
Because Gonzalez-Torres conceived of his art as “viral” in nature, existing both within the museum and dispersed throughout the community by means of its take-away components, the exhibition also included a series of twelve outdoor billboards of the same image of a bird in flight, installed throughout the city of Venice. It also features “Untitled”, 1992–95, a never-before-realized sculpture in the courtyard of the pavilion: two adjoining, circular reflecting pools, the sides of which touch just enough at a single point to share an almost undetectable flow of water.