Felix Gonzalez-Torres - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “He uses individual memory as a tool to counter the artificial separation of the ‘personal’ and the ‘public,’ a distinction that works in practice to delegitimize whole categories of lived experience.”
    —Russell Ferguson

    Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Me and My Sister) is a powerful example of the artist’s discrete series of photographic jigsaw puzzles made between 1987 and 1992, widely considered one of the most significant series from his oeuvre. “Untitled” (Me and My Sister) features a reproduction of an archival family photograph of the artist with his younger sister, Mayda Gonzalez-Torres, from whom he was long separated after fleeing from Cuba with his older sister in 1970. Grainy and blurry in an elegant metaphor for memory, the image recalls an earlier time in the artist’s childhood when living as a unified family. As José Esteban Muñoz carefully identifies in reference to this work, “Without announcing itself, this image becomes emblematic of exile, the lost home and territory, the lost childhood, and a gilded and fragile recollection of it.”i

    “He protected my little sister, Maydita. Félix was 6 years older than Maydita; sometimes they were accomplices and sometimes he took care of her, they were a perfect duo.”
    —Gloria González-Torres

    Contained delicately in a plastic bag, the visually fragile form of the puzzle is becoming of an artist who, living amongst the queer and artistic communities in New York at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, was acutely conscious of the fleeting nature of life. “The jigsaw puzzles deem memory a fragile construction, fragmentary and piecemeal, and frozen at particular instants recalled through photographs,” describes curator Deborah Cullen. “They allude to the imminent potential of the past’s disintegration.”ii Gonzalez-Torres candidly embraces the most intimate and tender aspects of life to make work that transcends simply personal relevance, arguably his work’s most powerful quality. Like the iconic clocks, lightbulbs and candies of Gonzalez-Torres’ other well-known works, the puzzles utilize a quotidian, domestic form that brings the recognizably nostalgic image into the public realm. Mixing personal photographs with snapshots of monuments, personal letters, landscapes and news clippings, the puzzles explore the ways in which images subjectively construct and accrue meaning. Embracing the associations of photography with history, politics, memory and loss, “Untitled” (Me and My Sister) is a touching symbol of preservation and legacy. 


    i José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, Minneapolis, 199, p. 175

    ii Deborah Cullen, “Felix Gonzalez-Torres: The Jigsaw Puzzles” in Searching for Sebald: Photography After W.G. Sebald, Los Angeles, 2007, p. 350

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Tableau de la Vie Moderne, June 6–July 27, 1996 (another example exhibited)
      New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, As Time Goes By: History, Memory, and Sentimentality, June 6–August 20, 1997, pp. 5, 26 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 5)
      New York, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Shared Vision: Photographs from the Collection of Emily Fisher Landau and Anne E. and M. Anthony Fisher, October 31, 1998–November 15, 1999 (another example exhibited)
      New York, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Paper, May 19, 2007–January 14, 2008 (another example exhibited)
      New York, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Five Decades of Passion Part Two: The Founding of the Center, 1989-1991, November 15, 2009–March 29, 2010 (another example exhibited)
      New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; San Jose Museum of Art; Legacy: The Emily Landau Collection, February 10, 2011–September 14, 2014, pp. 100–101, 319, 378 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 101, 319)
      New York, Fisher Landau Center for Art, Legacy: Selections from Emily Fisher Landau's Gift to The Whitney Museum of American Art, June 12–October 9, 2011 (another example exhibited)

    • Literature

      Felix Gonzalez-Torres, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995, pp. 49, 222 (another example illustrated, p. 49)
      Dietmar Elger, ed., Felix Gonzalez-Torres, exh. cat. and catalogue raisonné, Ostfildern, 1997, no. 46, vol. I, pp. 31, 50; vol. II, pp. 35, 163, 165 (another example illustrated, vol. II, p. 35)
      Jose Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, Minneapolis, 1999, p. 175 (another example illustrated)
      Henry Rogers and Aaron Williamson, eds., Art Becomes You: Parody, Pastiche and the Politics of Art; Materiality in a Post-Materiality Paradigm, Birmingham, 2004, pp. 19, 22–25, 28–43, 46–49, 51
      Julie Ault, ed., Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Göttingen, 2006, pp. 362, 410 (another example illustrated, p. 362)
      Felix Gonzalez-Torres, exh. cat., Neue Gesellshaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, 2006
      Nathalie Garneau, “Mensonges de l’autoportrait : mirages d’un projet autobiographique,” Esse, no. 58, Fall 2006, p. 37
      Félix González-Torres. Somewhere/Nowhere. Algún lugar/Ningún lugar, exh. cat., Malba - Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires, 2008, p. 12 (another example illustrated)
      Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2010, pp. 64, 203 (another example illustrated, p. 64)
      Félix González-Torres: Somewhere/Nowhere. Algún lugar/Ningún lugar, exh. cat., Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2010, p. 14 (another example illustrated)
      Sung Won Kim and Geun-jin Lim, "Special Artist: Felix Gonzalez-Torres," Art in Culture, August 2012, pp. 116-135 (another example illustrated)

Property from the Collection of the Félix González-Torres Family


"Untitled" (Me and My Sister)

chromogenic print jigsaw puzzle in plastic bag
7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Executed in 1988, this work is the artist's proof from an edition of 3 plus 1 artist's proof.

We wish to thank the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, whose insights helped us to prepare this catalogue entry.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $241,300

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023