Artistry grows beyond the ages to make a new pathway of success for every talented individual out there. No one would have imagined a virus to impact the lives of millions of artists. Traditional and retro art forms may be a thing of the past, but AIDS definitely isn’t. It is a deadly disease that diminishes the immune system through multiple stages, even to mutilate the patients with the slightest blows. Although the disease has been put under control now, it was novel in the eighties and nineties. Back in those decades, the AIDS crisis paved the path for a generation-defining experience through art. The HIV epidemic was increasingly becoming a phenomenon that plagued not just the bodies of the patients but also the minds of the people around them.
It entered the works of many American artists, with the myriad of options and concepts turning the industry into a gory and horrifying canvas with contemporary styles. In the culture of idolization over health and youth, the epidemic became the breaking point for the stigmatization of several communities and the quick responses in the form of activism and political art. These came from artists who have first-hand experiences with the AIDS epidemic. Most of the art created during this period was responsive to the crisis, immensely changing the dominant self-reflective art practices. Let us take a closer look at how the epidemic brought art and politics on the same plane.
AIDS Art and Activism
Two significant art movements had hailed at the onset of the eighties, and they succeeded in attracting different types of spectators. An elitist abstract expressionist approach was given to a few of the works, while the others were mostly pop art promoting the consumerist culture. The artist’s personal experiences had no role in the creations of that era. Once the AIDS crisis had begun, the artists were affected in ways they had never imagined. The devastating effects of the virus were drawing the attention of the artists to paint effective strokes on the canvases of deep meaning and impact.
As the hostile attitudes toward the people were overlooked by most governments, the artists brushed up on that to shed light on the problems faced by activists of that period. This controversial theme was grazed on by art, and the challenges were being tackled by the various artists.
Keith Haring’s AIDS Oeuvre
Sexuality and HIV were given an unnecessary association that led to the personal and social destruction of several communities. Keith Haring focused on this aspect of the epidemic to learn more about its effects. The artist’s works became more oriented towards homosexuality and male sexuality. A strong connection between the fear of AIDS and homosexuality was initiated by Keith’s works to convey a message most people were ignorant of at that time. All the late works of the artists saw the rise of AIDS symbolism, with the personification of HIV as a horned sperm gathering a lot of attention.