Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996)
Sheet: 16 11/16 × 21 13/16 in. (42.4 × 55.4 cm) Mount: 17 5/8 × 22 5/8 × 1/16 in. (44.8 × 57.5 × 0.2 cm)
Printed by Triumph Productions; published by Public Art Fund, Inc.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Thea Westreich and Ethan Wagner
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
This poster was published by the Public Art Fund of New York City in conjunction with a billboard project it commissioned Felix Gonzalez-Torres to create for the twentieth anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Similar to the billboard that was installed in Sheridan Square, one block from the site of the riots, the poster exemplifies Gonzalez-Torres’s minimalist aesthetic: two lines of white text on a black expanse commemorate landmark struggles and honor persecuted figures in the history of the gay rights movement. Yet his timeline does not chart a linear narrative or seamless progression; made at the height of the AIDS crisis, it leaps back and forth in time, implying that the campaign for gay rights is ongoing, marked by as many setbacks as advances. For example, the earliest date included on the poster is 1891, marking the beginning of the relationship between Irish poet Oscar Wilde and English author Alfred Douglas, which would end in the infamous trial of Wilde on charges of “sodomy and gross indecency.” Characteristically subtle, the artist used a public format to chronicle a history that had often been suppressed or kept private (and one in which he was personally invested—Gonzalez-Torres’s lover had died of AIDS-related complications, and he too would die of the disease). Like much of his work, the poster encourages viewers to negotiate their own relationship to its subject; Gonzalez-Torres conceived of the blank black field above the text as a “space for imaginary projection.”