In Observance of World AIDS Day and Day Without Art
November 29, 1993 - January 12, 1994Few diseases have had the devastating effect upon our generation as AIDS and HIV. It is estimated that by the year 2000, some thirty million individuals worldwide will have died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS and HIV occur in people from every background, with growing numbers of teenagers and women contracting the disease. Many artists' lives have been lost to AIDS. Each year on December 1, as part of World AIDS Day, artists and art organizations throughout the world observe Day Without Art to pay tribute to those who have died, to recognize the loss to our society of creative power and future artistic contributions, and to express support to those living with AIDS and HIV. This year, the Philadelphia Museum of Art commemorates Day Without Art with an installation of works from the collections. Award-winning Massachusetts photographer Nicholas Nixon worked with fifteen men and women suffering from AIDS who allowed him to photograph the progressive stages of their heartbreaking illness, and who contributed writings about their experience with AIDS for the book People With Aids (Boston, 1991). Photographs of these people, Tom Moran, a physical therapist; Bob Sappenfield, a public-policy scholar and White House consultant; and Donald Perham, a banker, are included in this installation. Another work in this installation is by the Philadelphia artist Stuart Netsky. Human vanity is a recurrent theme in Netsky's works, which are often made of transient materials to convey timeless and universal issues. In his print Eternity, Netsky used a recent Calvin Klein advertisement to emphasize male beauty and perfection. He dusted HIVID, a drug currently used in the treatment of AIDS, onto a glue ground silkscreened onto paper, lending a ghostly quality to the subtle and elegant image. Eternity is a recent gift to the collections in memory of Mark Dallas Butler, a former Museum employee who died this year of AIDS.