Collection Artwork
Group Material (New York, New York, established 1989 – dissolved 1996, New York, New York)
AIDS & Insurance
plastic exterior bus advertisement
Real Art Ways (Hartford, Connecticut, established 1975)
paper size: 21 1/8 x 70 in.
Gift of Andrea Rosen
shown in Hartford and its suburbs, Connecticut, United States, North America

Installation views

Object Label

Ronald Reagan, US president from 1981 to 1989, did not publicly mention AIDS until 1987, after more than 41,000 Americans died of the disease. Reagan’s administration grossly underfunded AIDS research, prevention, and education, as did that of his successor, George H. W. Bush.

Bush’s first official speech on AIDS, delivered fourteen months into his presidency, addressed the National Leadership Coalition on AIDS and offered compassionate ideas that did not match his policies. Americans, particularly already marginalized gay men, continued to die of the disease.

Activist artists like Donald Moffett and the collective Group Material pointed the finger at government leaders’ complicity in the crisis. They believed that radical, innovative, politically driven art on the streets could fuel broad collective anger and incite change.

Moffett wheat-pasted He Kills Me on the streets of New York City. Using more official channels, Group Material applied AIDS & Insurance to about forty Connecticut Transit buses running between the Hartford city center—at the time, the “insurance capital of the world”—and its suburbs. Each poster uses the president’s image to hold him accountable.

From the exhibition: Give a damn. (June 30 – September 30, 2018)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

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Give a damn.
Pattern by Evelyn Wang ’19
Inspired by the exhibition 3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964-1980
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.