No Title, Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, No Title, 1989, offset print on pale blue? paper, framed, image via Doyle

Red Canoe 1987 Paris 1985 Harry the Dog 1983 Blue Lake 1987 Interferon 1989 Ross 1984

We’ve been here before. As a diptych stack by the artist once endlessly put it, “Somewhere better than this place/ Nowhere better than this place”.

Doyle is offering a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres that threads every conceptual needle. It is an edition. From an endlessly replenished stack. It’s in the catalogue raisonée, but not as a work.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (Still Life), 1989, Print on paper, endless copies
6 inches at ideal height x 11 x 8 1/2 inches (original paper size), image: FG-T Foundation

Gonzalez-Torres first showed “Untitled” (Still Life), 1989, in an AIDS benefit group show at Anina Nosei in the summer of 1989. It’s a stack of pale blue paper with a photostat-like line of text. It’s one of the two smallest stacks the artist made with off the rack, 8.5 x 11 inch paper. It was acquired out a show in San Francisco in 1990, by Berkeley collector Robert Shimshak.

[Shimshak also bought a puzzle edition,“Untitled” (Warm Water). Which I mention because the text of “Untitled” (Still Life) reminds me of several images Gonzalez-Torres later made into puzzles. The photostat and portrait events always felt like abstractions, but of course it’s as likely for a memory to be triggered by photos as it is to be conjured out of nothing.]

sheet from Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Still Life), 8.375 x 10.875 in., blue, with a beautiful crease, collected at Anina Nosei Gallery in 1989, via J.N. Herlin

“Untitled” (Still Life) has been exhibited a few times, and so sheets from it are not unavailable. J.N. Herlin had one that apparently came from the first exhibition at Anina Nosei, for $200. The Doyle estimate is $6,000-9,000, quite a mark-up, even in these inflationary times.

But the Doyle lot description does not actually link this to the CR’s cat. 71, “Untitled” (Still Life), but to A41 in the first appendix, the “Catalogue of Additional Material.” This entry, listed not as Untitled but, No Title, is an edition of five “single framed sheets from “Untitled” (Still Life) (cat. no. 71)” given by the artist. Three of the five editions are listed as “private collection,” and two of those give the location as New York. So the possibility is there.

The Additional Material section of the CR includes variations of photos the artist used for works, or additional editions or variations of the photostat works. One object is an acetate for a photostat, and one is a group of individual images from a portfolio. But A41 is the only example of the artist giving sheets from a stack as individual works. [Not that that’s ever stopped people from selling individual sheets from a stack separately, or misleadingly describing them as prints.]

Not getting a lot of “in artist’s frame” from this, tbh, but using a mass produced frame for an 8×10 photo is a subtle way to introduce a photographic reference. image: Doyle

But how can we know? The appendix lists the dimensions of the A41 prints as “9 1/16 x 11 1/2 inches (23 x 29.2 cm)” which would very much *not* be the “original paper size” of the Nosei stack. Did the artist try out a custom size of paper before settling on standard 8.5 x 11? Did he really only offset print five copies? Is the paper actually pale blue, and if it is, did it fade? Does it matter? Did the artist stick it with a pin in one corner first, or did the collector do that? Did Doyle’s measurements really come out exactly the same as the CR’s? Are these dimensions for the sheet or the frame? Did the artist frame it? In this frame from Third Avenue Bazaar?

So many questions, and so many possible implications for what this object is, how it was made, where it’s been, and what it should be worth. I am very interested to spend your nine thousand dollars on it, and see what happens, though.

Nov 9, 2022, Lot 91: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, No Title, 1989, est. $6-9,000 [doyle] [update: unsold]
Soft-Core: On Additional Material and Registered Non-Works
Art Sold Separately: Why Are People Buying Free Felix Gonzalez-Torres Posters?