b. 1957, Guáimaro, Cuba; d. 1996, Miami
Born in Cuba, at the age of fourteen Felix Gonzalez-Torres moved to Puerto Rico to live with his aunt and uncle. After relocating to New York City in 1979, he earned a BFA from the Pratt Institute in 1983. Four years later, he received a MA from the International Center of Photography/New York University and completed the independent study program at the Whitney Museum of American Art twice, in 1981 and 1983. He had a brief but prolific artistic career and taught at both New York University and, briefly, at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, before passing away from AIDS-related complications.
Gonzalez-Torres’s work consists of minimalist sculptures and installations that are frequently process-oriented or participatory in nature. Generally comprised of everyday objects such as clocks, light bulbs, paper, or candy, his installations engage the audience in active thought or participation. His work often comments on intimacy and emotional relationships plagued by loss, drawing on the degenerative and restorative aspects of life with HIV and AIDS.
Gonzalez-Torres’s work has been exhibited extensively around the world, and he participated in the 10th Biennale of Sydney (1996), 45th Venice Biennale (1993), and Whitney Biennial, New York (1991). Among the recent solo exhibitions of his work are Felix Gonzalez-Torres, PLATEAU and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2012); Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Specific Objects without Specific Form, WIELS, Brussels (2010, traveled); and Somewhere/Nowhere, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2008, traveled). Recent group exhibitions include Shock of the News, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2012, traveled); This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012, traveled); September 11, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (2011); Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (2010, traveled); and Paired, Gold: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Roni Horn, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009). The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation in New York facilitates the study, exhibition, and publication of his work.