Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein
by Valerie Cassel Oliver
Skira/Rizzoli. 224 pages, $65.
A TWENTY-YEAR retrospective of Donald Moffett’s work titled The Extravagant Vein has been mounted by the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, where it will remain on view until January 8, 2012. After that, the exhibit will travel to the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery of Skidmore College in Sara-toga Springs, New York, and then (next June) to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Accompanying the exhibit is a handsome, full-color catalog, published by the Houston museum and Skira/Rizzoli, which includes essays by Bill Arning and Russell Ferguson, an interview with Douglas Crimp, and an overview by exhibit curator Valerie Cassel Oliver.
Moffett is perhaps best known for his work as an AIDS activist while a member of the artists’ collective Gran Fury in New York in the 1980’s. Gran Fury was the propaganda arm of ACT UP, and its artists’ visual images included such iconic posters as “He Kills Me” (1987), the “Silence = Death” logo (1987), and the “Kissing Doesn’t Kill” series. From 1989 to 2001, Moffett worked with the graphic design studio Bureau, which he cofounded with fellow Gran Fury member Marlene McCarty, with whom he worked on activist and commercial projects.