Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s

Feb 11–Jun 3, 2012

General Idea’s AIDS Wallpaper is one iteration of a larger project titled Imagevirus. With all the graphic punch of a corporate icon, the Imagevirus logo appropriated the styles of street advertising, wheat-pasted posters, and domestic wallpaper. With its bold color blocking and red all-caps text, the Imagevirus logo precisely replicates the format of artist Robert Indiana’s (American, b. 1928) pop-era LOVE logo. This association provoked controversy not just from the religious right but also from other AIDS activists, many of whom advocated a more militant response to the epidemic. The transformation of “LOVE” into “AIDS” can also be seen as a canny acknowledgment of the end of the counterculture of the 1960s. General Idea created various works using the logo, perhaps as a response to President Ronald Reagan’s (American, 1911–2004) infamous silence regarding the crisis: he did not speak the word AIDS aloud publicly until 1987, several years into the crisis.