“Putti’s Pudding” names a group of forty-five felt-tip drawings culled from the pages of the Italian artist and cartoonist Vittorio Scarpati’s notebooks. They were made in 1989, while Scarpati was hospitalized, dying of pneumonia as a complication of AIDS. A repeated motif is the bedbound artist, his lungs rigged up to so many pipes and machines that they bubble with water “like tropical fish aquariums,” in the words of his wife, Cookie Mueller, who would also die of AIDS-related causes just two months after her husband. The drawings were first published that same year, with an extended preface by Mueller, here excerpted as a handout. Together, the text and illustrations combine honest exposition, black humor and whimsy and bear witness to the realities of living and dying with AIDS in the 1980s.
In the 1970s Mueller was one of John Waters’s key Dreamlanders, acting alongside Divine
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