PAUL MORRIS, owner of New York’s Paul Morris Gallery, represents established and emerging artists:

One of the great photographic pieces on the subject of AIDS was done for Vanity Fair in the 1980s. It was a grid of faces, snapshots. It was called '' One by One; AIDS: In Memoriam.” (Vanity Fair, March 1987). It looked like a yearbook. It showed 50 faces of people in the fashion and the arts communities whom AIDS had recently claimed. You looked at the pages and said: Jesus. All these people are dead?

It really hit home. I saved that issue - - it’s got Diane Keaton on the cover, a la Annie Hall. I was recently out of school at that point in my life, working for about three years, and the guy that hired me died. And I had to come up a picture of him, for that issue.

Vanity Fair was actually doing a take-off on a Life magazine report called ‘’One Week’s Dead,’’ which showed photographs of all 217 soldiers killed over seven days during the Vietnam War (Life, June 27, 1969). That story helped change people’s perceptions about the war. It's one thing to talk about statistics. It’s another to actually see the casualties. The sea of faces provoked this overpowering empathy and a sense of the true human toll of the war.

When Vanity Fair published its photographs, there was very little information about the disease at that point. The GMHC was saying, ' ' These are the guidelines. This what we know, this is what we don’t know.' ' The more frightening thing was that there was certainly a lot more that they didn’t know. At that point the whole epidemic was gaining momentum. A lot of people I knew were starting to go to memorials all the time. There was this staggering death toll, particularly among those in the creative arts. Everyone from art dealers to choreographers to painters to writers were dropping all around us. And so Vanity Fair was reacting to this, felt inspired by having seen that story in Life, and decided to show all these thumbnails of all these young, talented characters. It was this extraordinary spread: 90 percent men, ages 25 to 45. Underneath the pictures, to make it even more heartfelt, you saw their names, what they did, and the age at which they died.

What was striking about it was: If you think of how young the average soldier was in the Vietnam War, Life’s issue looked like a college yearbook. So did Vanity Fair’s. In those two issues, you were looking at the faces of two wars, in a way. It was incredibly potent.

That story really made me start paying attention to obituaries. You know, in sort of guilty fashion, you turn to the Metro section and discretely scan the obituaries. For years, always, every week, there would be two or three: ‘Man in his 40s, choreographer, survived by friend.’ Then, with the new HIV cocktail, it all started to slow down. You stopped going to memorials. But back then, for a while there, anyone in this city could just sit down, start making a list of people you knew who had died, and before you knew it, you hit a hundred. When you looked at that Vanity Fair, you thought, ‘This is just the tip of the iceberg.’