Felix Gonzalez-Torres, »Untitled« (Fortune Cookie Corner), 1990

Wrapped in golden, glittering cellophane paper, fortune cookies are piled up in a corner of the Old Masters Collection. It is the work »Untitled« (Fortune Cookie Corner) (1990) by Felix Gonzalez- Torres. We are invited to take one of the cookies, eat it and thereby become part of the work, as it were. The Cuban artist, who died of AIDS in 1996, exposes his work to a permanent process of change - through the participation of the audience it is completed by disappearing. Felix Gonzalez-Torres juxtaposes the red and gold shiny packaging and the childlike joy at a sweet with the feeling of melancholy. In many of his works, the artist negotiates themes of disappearance, mourning and loss. Eating the fortune cookies can be understood as a reference to the life cycle of birth, death and possible resurrection - central Christian pictorial themes that the German painter Barthel Beham also negotiated in his painting »Vanitas« (1540). Here, a grim reaper approaches a female nude figure. A boy nestles up against the young woman, behind her lies the corps of an older woman. Dead branches, wilted leaves and a ruine-like archway underline the theme of transience. Beauty and decay, life and death, youth and old age - Barthel Beham and Felix Gonzalez-Torres enter into an exciting dialogue about life and its transformation, transcending centuries and continents.

»Untitled« (Fortune Cookie Corner) is part of an exhibition from 25 May to 5 July 2020 for which the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, New York, has invited 1,000 people worldwide to realize the work at a location of their choice. Brigitte Kölle, head of the Collection of Contemporary Art and one of the invited persons, have deliberately sought a dialogue with the Old Masters.