Apocalypse Sky: Art, AIDS, and Activism in New York City, 1982–1992

February 4–September 12, 2023
Focus Gallery

An abstract painting featuring a number of different indeterminate visual elements
Keith Haring, American, 1958–1990, Apocalypse 2, from the portfolio, Apocalypse, screen-print mounted on two-ply board, printed by Rupert Jasen Smith Inc., New York, published by George Mulder Fine Arts, New York, Gift of Michael Cornish, class of 1982, 2009.8.2

A Focus Gallery exhibition, Apocalypse Sky assembles from the Loeb’s collection about twenty works by artists whose lives were transformed by the HIV/AIDS crisis during the 1980s and 1990s. For many of these artists, New York City’s “Downtown scene,” long a bohemian enclave, now staged a war zone. At the exhibition’s center is Apocalypse, a print portfolio of images and texts created by artist Keith Haring and writer William S. Burroughs in 1988, the year Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. Also on view are photographs by Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mark Morrisroe, and others; text-based media by Jenny Holzer and Zoe Leonard; documentary testimony and ephemera from ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power); and a loan of Félix González-Torres’s “Untitled” (L.A.), composed of individually wrapped candies to evoke the weight of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died in 1991 from AIDS-related complications. Together these works call on us to think about the role of art across both cultural politics and the politics of remembering. Together they remind us, too, that the war is not over.

This exhibition was co-curated by Hiram Perez, Associate Professor of English, and Elizabeth Nogrady, the Loeb’s Curator of Academic Programs. Support is provided by the Mellon Foundation.

Vassar College

124 Raymond Ave
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Main (845) 437-5237 | Info (845) 437-5632