The AIDS epidemic became personal for me when my sister's best friend died in 1991 after a six-year battle with the disease. Marc was an extraordinary person—creative, brilliant, fun and caring—and his loss was unfathomable for anyone who knew him.
Flash forward to 1999. I was celebrating a milestone of my incipient second career as a poster dealer—International Poster Gallery's 5th anniversary on Newbury Street in Boston. As a trained art historian and businessman, I was committed to customer education and making a contribution to the poster field. I had read Maurice Rickards' book The Rise and Fall of the Poster, which posited that the poster had reached its pinnacle of influence in WWI, where unrivaled by television and radio, the poster dominated the public's view of the war around the world.
On a trip to Europe, one of my favorite poster sources informed me of an AIDS poster collection he had been assembling. This was an extraordinary effort—he had spent over 10 years gathering 3,000+ posters from over 80 countries around the globe, and all were related to the AIDS crisis. This struck a chord within me for many reasons. The posters are a way of remembering those who have died due to AIDS—a graphic quilt of a different kind. The poster itself once again should be celebrated for its central role in promoting awareness, saving lives, raising donations, influencing the public debate and speaking out in the face of this terrifying global disease. And, as a collection that continues to grow, it also vividly reminds us that this disease is still very much present in our lives.
A collection of this type belongs in a museum dedicated to the history of medicine, of public health, of graphic design, or of the poster. It seemed that undertaking the responsibility for the collection would be an important task, although not a commercially profitable one. I wanted to support this effort by purchasing the collection while making a commitment to add more posters over the ensuing years. I am most fortunate to have the collaboration of the indefatigable and inspired team of Elizabeth Resnick and Javier Cortés to bring a selection of this remarkable collection to its first public viewing. Their shared passion for graphic design, socio-political posters and helping to solve the AIDS crisis made this exhibition a reality. That its first viewing is at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, one of Boston's educational gems and bravest pathfinders, is equally special to me.
This exhibition is a tribute to Marc and to all of those who have suffered and died from AIDS; to the people from all walks of life who have valiantly struggled to treat the ?disease and solve its riddles; and to the graphic designers who so generously gave of their time and skills to create the posters that make up this exhibition.