Félix González-Torres (1957-1996)

Untitled (Toronto), 1992

Light bulbs, extension cord, and porcelain light sockets

“Here Gonzalez-Torres has imbued common utilitarian objects—lightbulbs strung together—with poetic significance. The cords, like two lives, are intertwined. The life-span of the bulbs, like that of a person, is of a particular duration and will ultimately burn out.

The artist said, ‘I don’t necessarily know how these pieces are best displayed. I don’t have all of the answers—you [the owner] decide how you want it done. Whatever you want to do, try it. This is not some Minimalist artwork that has to be exactly two inches to the left and six inches down. Play with it, please. Have fun. Give yourself that freedom. Put my creativity into question….’” (The two previous paragraphs were copied from here https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81313 )

In 1991 FGT leaves Material Group and from there, a date that coincides with the death of his partner Ross Laycock at the hands of AIDS, his work begins to take on a lyrical-poetic look never before seen either in the tradition of conceptualism or minimalism. “FGT’s work will be connected more than ever to the intimate and subjective universe of his life experiences, fixing a series of intimations around death, loneliness, and emptiness.”

FGT was fascinated by the idea of Rilke’s blood remembering. And for those so-called ironies of life, when visiting Paris in 1985 he sees a street fair full of light bulbs cords and thought of the island. Years later, in a mix where he evokes that French finding, Wallace Stevens’ poem Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour, and the grief over the physical loss of his lover, FGT begins the Light Bulb series. “As simple and as beautiful, just as we had it in Cuba,” he says when speaking of the Parisian experience. The same Cuba that does not know that its installation series of light bulbs may also be a tribute to it, to the Cuba of the “great blackout”.