Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Always to Return

October 18, 2024 - July 6, 2025
pile of mint candies on a tiled patio
Feliz Gonzalez-Torres, “‘Untitled’ (Portrait of Dad),” white mint candies in clear wrappers, endless supply, 1991.
Overall dimensions vary with installation. Ideal weight: 175 lb.
Installation view, Material Tells, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Jun. 23 – Sep. 8, 2019. Photo by Laura Findlay; Cur. Daisy Desrosiers. © Estate Felix Gonzalez-Torres, courtesy Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Archives of American Art will present “Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Always to Return,” an exhibition focused on the artist’s deep engagement with portraiture and the construction of identity, as well as how history is told and inherited. As one of the leading artists—and portraitists—of the twentieth century, Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996) expanded the horizon of what a portrait could be, from a genre often seen as a static representation of individuals to one with the capacity to change, remain resonant, and encourage collaboration. With no formal beginning or end point, the exhibition will unfold at the intersection of Gonzalez-Torres’s groundbreaking work, the context of two Smithsonian collections, and the historically significant setting of Washington, D.C.

The exhibition is planned to continue outside the building with the placement of the artist’s light string work “Untitled” (America) (1994) in three key locations: the facade of the museum, the first floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library of the District of Columbia Public Library, and outdoors along 8th Street between D and E Streets NW in partnership with the DowntownDC BID.

“Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Always to Return” will be the first major presentation of the artist’s work in Washington, D.C., in more than 30 years. The exhibition is co-curated by Josh T Franco, head of collecting, Archives of American Art, and Charlotte Ickes, curator of time-based media art and special projects, National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition will be on view from Oct. 18, 2024, through June 22, 2025, in the galleries at the National Portrait Gallery and Archives of American Art and will be accompanied by two publications.

“Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Always to Return” received generous support from the Fisher Arts Impact Fund and the Latino Initiatives Pool.