cover image UNFRAMED: Artists Respond to AIDS

UNFRAMED: Artists Respond to AIDS

Community Research Initiative on AIDS (C, J. A. Forde, Jerae A. Forde, . . Powerhouse, $60 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-57687-134-8

With $1.5 million in funds generated by its "Unframed" program of art sales, New York's nonprofit ACRIA has worked to test and refine 40 AIDS treatments, seven of which have been approved by the FDA. This book documents work donated to the program by more than 100 contemporary artists over the last decade—and the results hold up very well as an anthology of recent American art, much of it socio-sexually charged. Arriving in a light-brown 10"×121/2" cloth binding with 3"×5" tip-on illustration by Ross Bleckner, the book feels as sleek, elegant and understated as the art inside is engaged, provocative and beautiful. Much of the art obliquely reflects the book's subject: Kenny Scharf's whimsical set of phallic microphone-like protuberances in acrylic feature oddly incredulous grimaces on their "heads" that perfectly invoke the innocence (and perhaps post-coital sheepishness) of sex. Lisa Yuskavage's etching Weeds shows a nude young girl protected by a thin bank of flowers and looking upward through flopping tresses—somehow she doesn't look quite safe. Jennifer Bartlett's simple color block gouaches invoke the pathos of home with just a few domestic shapes, while photos by Nan Goldin, Lauren Greenfield, Spencer Tunick (a mass nude "die-in") and Bruce Weber all show life at differing levels of comfort and emotional foreboding. Julian Schnabel, Doug and Mike Starn, Cindy Sherman, Vik Muniz, Jenny Holzer and many others fill out the 260 crisp four-color reproductions, and the work is uniformly quite good. The art direction is by Terry Morgan, who has produced books and catalogues on James Rosenquist and Sophie Calle and collaborated with Matthew Barney on the latter's Cremaster books. (Dec.)