Alumnus' Viral Images Go On Tour

Carl Tandatnick ’78 fuses science, activism, and visual art.
December 11, 2014

If you were in New York’s Times Square on the first of December in 1994, you would have seen a massive image of the AIDS virus attacking a white blood cell on the Sony billboard. It was World AIDS Day, and the video installation, “Day Without Art,” was the work of Carl Tandatnick ’78. Via the screen, Tandatnick posed an eerie question: “When is Day Without AIDS?”

Now, a decade later, Tandatnick’s exhibition will be featured in the Art/AIDS/America exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art opening in June 2015. The exhibition, curated by Jonathan D. Katz and Rock Hushka, also will travel to the Tacoma Art Museum, the Zuckerman Museum in Atlanta, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York in 2016.

An artist and anesthesiologist, Tandatnick has created more than ninety large-scale photosilkscreen-on-canvas paintings of the AIDS virus by magnifying red and white blood cells thousands of times by electron microscope. “Being a physician,” he writes, he finds that “the fragile nature of life is always foremost in my mind.”

Tandatnick’s work, which focuses primarily on AIDS and mortality, is shown in permanent collections in museums all over the world. (Duke Magazine featured his art in our March-April 1994 cover story.) View more of his art on his website.

  • Elizabeth '11 is a writer in New York. She previously worked as a senior editorial fellow for The Trace and a staff writer for Duke Magazine.