Blog 2:Portrait of Ross in L.A; Felix Gonzales-Torres

In using one of Kant’s movements of the beautiful, I will try to properly articulate why I believe it should be defined as art.

An Application of Kant’s First and Third Movements.

If I take the first rule of Kant and apply it to this piece I would feel nothing outside of a mild disinterest. Growing up in L.A, I would have seen the brightly colored wrappers and thought that it was just another artist seeking to create a name for themselves. I would have moved closer to see if there was actual candy in the wrapper but I wouldn’t be drawn to it. I would have gotten a feeling of vague curiosity at first. Not strong enough to constitute interest but enough to think “What is that pile of candy doing in the corner.” It is from here that we gather Kant’s first movement. The viewer is not to be interested in the piece. To an extent, we aren’t allowed to show a bias towards it. I’m not the biggest fan of candy or bright colors. That being said, I don’t particularly dislike either of those things. So I know my feelings on this piece wont be held to a bias. However, it would spark curiosity and that’s where a bulk of the third movement comes in.

Now that the test for the first movement and the feeling of curiosity in mind that we skip ahead to the third movement. According to Kant, “[…]  it is the mere form of purposiveness in the representation by which an object is given to us, so far as we are conscious of it.” (PAB,295) As the audience we are not entirely sure what the work means. Oftentimes with work such as this we’re only given the dimensions and perhaps, a title. With most of Gonzales-Torres work however, we are only given the dimensions. Often times they are to be untitled with their descriptions being the only way to glean an idea of what it is. For this piece, the description is “Portrait of Ross in L.A.” But that means nothing to us, for all we see is a 175 lb of candy. However it is upon deeper reflection that we begin to see how thoughtful and beautiful the art really is.

According to Art critic Julianne Miao “the pile of candy takes on the quality of a landform.” Yet, that is not entirely true. If it were to represent a landform why would it not be somewhere in the middle of the room? It’s large enough, truly to take up space there. Yet, this work is always located in the corner. As opposed to his other installations involving candy which are often located in the center. This is when we need to reflect on the description. For it is a Portrait, that ways 175 lbs., and is neatly gathered in the corner of the room, seemingly out of sight. Gathered into a pile yes, but the pile reflects less a landform and more of a body, sitting in the corner. As the audience removes a piece of the candy, and enjoys it. The pile grows smaller, yet the candy still exists inside the bodies of others. The feeling of brightness that is reflected in the candy wrappers still exists within other people even as the installation grows smaller and smaller.

Another Critique

As mentioned previously, another critic known as Julianne Miao goes into deeper detail of the dimensions of the piece and what the landscape of it means here. (http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1838/felix-gonzalez-torress-portrait-of-ross-beyond-form-and-content). In it, she additionally reflects on just what this installation does for the museum as a whole and addresses yet another subject of most of Gonzales-Torres’ work involving consumption of art pieces and the commentary on how that applies to capitalist gains. While I don’t necessarily agree with the ideas she has about the landscaped and formless aspect of the installation itself I do agree with the overarching poignancy involved in this piece. All in all while I do believe there will be people out there who argue that a pile of candy can not be art I also believe that this is excellent proof that while it is subjectively just a pile of candy the meaning of it and the experience the viewer has with the piece definitely qualifies it as such.

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