AIDS mimics American Pop art painter Robert Indiana’s (b. 1928) 1966 work LOVE. For General Idea LOVE exemplified the spirit of universal love, an ethos that was the foundation of the 1960s. Indiana’s red, blue, and green rendering of the word “LOVE” became ubiquitous, appearing on goods, including key chains, cocktail napkins, and a United States postage stamp. Attracted by the fluidity of this image, which travelled internationally, General Idea made a visually similar painting, but replaced the word “LOVE” with “AIDS.” The topic of AIDS was taboo and given the context of the pandemic, General Idea’s logo was shocking in its cheerful visualization and allusions to promiscuity.
General Idea envisioned their AIDS logo as a larger publicity campaign that would spread awareness and combat the stigma and fear surrounding the disease. They created iterations of the logo in a range of media, including sculpture, painting, wallpaper, posters, and multiples. The significance and activist dimension of General Idea’s AIDS logo cannot be understated, especially during a period in which great fear and a lack of information surrounded the disease.