David Kirby (activist)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

David Lawrence Kirby (December 6, 1957 - May 5, 1990) was an HIV/AIDS activist, and the subject of a photograph taken at his deathbed by Therese Frare. The image was published in Life magazine, which called it the "picture that changed the face of AIDS".

The 1990 photo by Therese Frare (in 1992 used in Benetton advertising) depicts his father, sister and niece standing by in anguish. The then 32-year-old Kirby is feeling his life slipping away.

David whispered, "I'm ready," took a last labored breath, then succumbed. The photo was also controversial due to its similarity to a pieta painting.

1992 Benetton advertising campaign

Following the Life publication, the Kirby family allowed the clothing company United Colors of Benetton to use the image in an 1992 advertising campaign, feeling that its story would reach a world wide audience. Fallout from the campaign came from many sources, including the Catholic Church which felt that the image was an inappropriate allusion to the historical imagery of The Virgin Mary comforting Jesus Christ after the crucifixion.

In 2012, Frare told Life that David's father Bill Kirby expressed the family's feelings on the use of the picture by Benetton when he told her "Listen, Therese. Benetton didn’t use us, or exploit us. We used them. Because of them, your photo was seen all over the world, and that’s exactly what David wanted."

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "David Kirby (activist)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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