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United Colors of Benetton: AIDS-David Kirby

Date 1992
Dimensions Overall: 11 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (29.2 x 41.9 cm)
Print medium Print-Lithograph

Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection
Section: Family
In 1990 Therese Frare was documenting a hospice home for people living with AIDS when she met David Kirby (1957–1990), an activist. He agreed to be photographed,
on the condition that she would not use the images for personal gain. When Kirby was on his deathbed, his family asked Frare to record their final goodbyes. One of the photographs she took was published in Life, where Olivierio Toscani, creative director for the Italian clothing company Benetton, first saw it. Known for employing provocative images in his advertising campaigns, Toscani decided to use a colorized version of this family portrait. The ad, in which Kirby looks like a stereotype of Jesus, appalled many. However, the Kirby family did allow their son’s portrait to be used. They said, “Benetton didn’t use us, or exploit us. We used them. Because of them, [David’s] photo was seen all over the world, and that’s exactly what David wanted.”

Credit line

Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2000

Feedback Accession No. 1068.2000