An installation view of an exhibition titled Frank Moore: Five paintings at David. Zwirner, New York, in 2022.

Frank Moore: Five Paintings

David Zwirner is pleased to announce Five Paintings, a selection of exceptional works by the late painter Frank Moore (1953–2002) drawn from an important private European collection. For this exhibition, five paintings and four works on paper will be on view at the 34 East 69th Street gallery. Made in the artist’s downtown New York studio and in his upstate home in Deposit, New York, these jewel-like pictures are among the best known that Moore created in his brief lifetime and among the most documented—portraying entire ecosystems within their inventive frames, which serve to extend the artwork’s confines beyond the support.

Frank Moore: Five Paintings follows the 2021 presentation of the artist’s work organized by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author, critic, and curator Hilton Als, which was part of More Life, a focused series of curated solo exhibitions shown at David Zwirner on the fortieth anniversary of the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis.

Read more

Image: Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994

Dates
November 2December 10, 2022
Artist
Frank Moore

“Raised on Long Island, Moore spent his childhood summers with his family in the Adirondacks, where he developed a particular fascination with nature and the gentle and sometimes violent interplay between subterranean insect life, dirt, water, and plants.”

—Hilton Als (curatorial statementMore Life)

A photograph of Frank Moore in Costa Rica, circa 2011

Frank Moore in Costa Rica, 2001

Frank Moore in Costa Rica, 2001

“The AIDS content ... first entered my work around 1987…. I had the same reaction to taking toxic drugs to suppress opportunistic infections as I had to using chemical sprays in the garden to get rid of aphids or gypsy moths. This was the beginning of an effort ... to view the health of the environment and human health as equivalent.”

—Frank Moore

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994.

Frank Moore

Wizard, 1994
Oil and silkscreen on canvas on wood with pharmaceuticals cast in lucite in an aluminum frame
68 x 96 inches (172.7 x 243.8 cm)

The five paintings in this presentation exemplify prescient themes that continue to reverberate today. Made at the peak of the AIDS crisis, Wizard (1994) places in the foreground the French virologist Jean-Claude Chermann who treated Moore and whose research led to the discovery of HIV and AIDS. Heaps of candy-colored tablets are joined by a blazing pile of coffins, each  inscribed discreetly with the name of someone Moore knew who perished from AIDS-related complications. This painting was featured on the cover of Art in America the year it was made.

“In painting Wizard,” Moore recalled, “I discovered that even tedious detail can take on life. I was painting thousands of tiny pills in the background and noticed that they looked like discarded musical notes. I liked that idea, so I pushed it.”

A detail from a painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994.

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

A detail from a painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994.

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

A detail from a painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994.

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

Wizard can be read like a Boschian treatise of the AIDS crisis at that moment in time…. The Plague is presented like a fable, almost a Wizard of Oz landscape littered with the accouterments of the health-care industry…. This painting, one of the artist’s finest, became a cult picture of the 1990s.”

—Gallery Partner David Leiber, from a lecture given at Cornell University, 2012

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Lullaby, dated 1997.

Frank Moore

Lullaby, 1997
Oil on canvas on featherboard with red pine frame
50 x 67 1/2 inches (127 x 171.4 cm)

One of Moore’s three “bed paintings”—the other two are in the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York—Lullaby pairs the domestic with the pastoral to bridge the earthly and the heavenly.

As the artist recalled in a Skowhegan School of Painting lecture given in 1998, “The buffalos which used to cover the plains like wildebeests used to cover the Serengeti are no more. They have receded into American folklore. But when I was growing up, my mother sang a lullaby to me, ‘Home on the Range’: ‘Give me a home where the buffalo roam / where the deer and the antelope play / where never is heard / a discouraging word / and the skies are not cloudy all day.’ ... It’s somewhat nostalgic.... the feeling was getting back to a simpler kind of childlike state.”

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Lullaby II, dated 1997

Frank Moore, Lullaby II, 1997. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Frank Moore, Lullaby II, 1997. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Frank Moore, Patient, 1997–1998

Frank Moore, Patient, 1997–1998. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

Frank Moore, Patient, 1997–1998. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

“Painting has become, for me, an intensely sensual activity. At times my awareness seems to project out of my body to occupy the space between my brush and the canvas.... The forms I paint, whether rocks or muscles or water and hair, all play upon my senses and become quite real.”

—Frank Moore

An installation view of an exhibition titled Frank Moore: Five Paintings, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2022.

Installation view, Frank Moore: Five Paintings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Frank Moore: Five Paintings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

“An intellectually fervent, fiercely independent maverick, [Moore] revived and revised a panoply of outré realist styles to comment on pressing contemporary issues, especially the environment and AIDS. His achievement centers on always luminous, often panoramic but exquisitely rendered allegorical paintings….”

—Roberta Smith, The New York Times

A detail of a painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

Frank Moore, Wizard, 1994 (detail)

placeholder

Frank Moore working on a frame for one of his paintings, n.d.

Frank Moore working on a frame for one of his paintings, n.d.

A detail of a painting by Frank Moore, titled Lullaby, dated 1997

Frank Moore, Lullaby, 1997 (detail)

Frank Moore, Lullaby, 1997 (detail)

A detail of a painting by Frank Moore, titled  The Curators, dated 1996

Frank Moore, The Curators, 1996 (detail)

Frank Moore, The Curators, 1996 (detail)

A detail of a painting by Frank Moore, titled Invertebration II, dated 1995

Frank Moore, Invertebration II, 1995 (detail)

Frank Moore, Invertebration II, 1995 (detail)

“A frame is such a key moment, the threshold of transition into the experience of an image.... I've paid a lot of attention to it, and have gotten all kinds of results.... I love the way such frames can layer the content in the overall perception of a work, adding humor, irony, tenderness, elegance.”

—Frank Moore 

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Nursery, dated 1994.

Frank Moore

Nursery, 1994
Oil on canvas on wood with enamel frame
29 1/8 x 53 inches (74 x 134.6 cm)
"A painting by Florine Stettheimer, titled Family Portrait, II. 1933. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Florine Stettheimer, Family Portrait, II. 1933. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Florine Stettheimer, Family Portrait, II. 1933. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

A painting by Kay Sage, titled From Another Approach, dated 1944

Kay Sage, From Another Approach, 1944

Kay Sage, From Another Approach, 1944

A painting by Paul Cadmus, titled Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece, dated 1939-1940

Paul Cadmus, Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece, 1939-1940

Paul Cadmus, Stone Blossom: A Conversation Piece, 1939-1940

"A painting by Charles Ephraim Burchfield, titled Gateway to September, dated 1946-1956.

Charles Ephraim Burchfield, Gateway to September, 1946-1956. © Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo, NY

Charles Ephraim Burchfield, Gateway to September, 1946-1956. © Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo, NY

Moore, who had studied painting and psychology at Yale University from 1971 to 1975, was influenced by many artists, including Florine Stettheimer, Charles E. Burchfield, Paul Cadmus, and Kay Sage.

A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Survival of the Fattest, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Study for "Survival of the Fattest", 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
31 x 23 5/8 inches (78.7 x 60 cm)

Moore recalls of Survival of the Fattest—part of a group of works commissioned by the fashion designer Gianni Versace—“These [paintings] are all from around this place where I spend summers upstate. ‘Survival of the fattest’ because in the insect world, if you’re fat, you’re beautiful. In the human world, you’re thin, you’re beautiful.”

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Cow, dated 1996, part of a group of works commissioned by Gianni Versace

Frank Moore, Cow, 1996, part of a group of works commissioned by Gianni Versace.

Frank Moore, Cow, 1996, part of a group of works commissioned by Gianni Versace.

“Frank’s work was not polit­i­cal in the sense of try­ing to accom­plish spe­cific ide­o­log­i­cal objec­tives. But in examining con­nected ecosys­tems—the global effects of genetic engi­neer­ing, the love affair between oil inter­ests and agri­cul­ture, or mul­ti­ple impacts of a virus, bod­ily and cul­tural—his paint­ings often led to polit­i­cal insights.”

—Loring McAlpin, founding member of the AIDS activist art collective Gran Fury

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Invertebration II, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Invertebration II, 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
19 3/4 x 29 inches (50.2 x 73.7 cm)
A photograph of Frank Moore in Costa Rica, dated 2001

Frank Moore in Costa Rica, 2001

Frank Moore in Costa Rica, 2001

A photograph of Frank Moore with a snapping turtle at his home in in Deposit, New York, not dated

Frank Moore with a snapping turtle at his home in in Deposit, New York, n.d.

Frank Moore with a snapping turtle at his home in in Deposit, New York, n.d.

“Autobiography is a grounding device. It’s like touching the ground. You know what it is. You’ve been there. It’s your life.”

—Frank Moore

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Spring, dated 1996.

Frank Moore

Spring, 1996
Oil on canvas on wood panel
26 x 56 inches (66 x 142.2 cm)

A kind of self-portrait as well as a tribute to themes of rebirth and resurrection, Spring (1996) seems to depict the artist after medical treatment; delicate snowflakes are superimposed over his profile, and he exhales a flutter of winged insects and diaphanous butterflies. Related to Moore’s pair of paintings Everything I Own (1993–1994), which refers to the tradition of the Buddhist mudra, this painting likewise visualizes in a complex way the ethereal and the terrestrial in its symbolism.

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Everything I Own II, dated 1993

Frank Moore, Everything I Own II, 1993

Frank Moore, Everything I Own II, 1993

A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Invertebration I, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Invertebration I, 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
29 x 19 3/4 inches (73.7 x 50.2 cm)
A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Study for "A Midsummer's Night", dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Study for "A Midsummer's Night", 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
31 x 21 3/4 inches (78.7 x 55.3 cm)

The Curators (1996) questions what happens to an artist’s legacy after one passes, a concern which preoccupied Moore after his HIV diagnosis. In what appears to be the crypt of an encyclopedic museum, the walls’ bricks are carved with the names of Moore’s friends, influences, and contemporaries. The work is enclosed in a black frame netted with painted white spiderwebs that also appear in the top left corner of the composition, there spelling out “PAY WHAT YOU WISH.” Requiring a closer look, The Curators features a tautological exercise by Moore that makes reference to Belgian surrealist René Magritte: a painting in the bottom right corner pictures a meta version of the work itself, infinitely repeating within the frame.

A painting by Frank Moore, titled The Curators, dated 1996.

Frank Moore

The Curators, 1996
Oil on canvas panel with frame
70 3/8 x 88 3/8 inches (178.8 x 224.5 cm)
A painting by Renee Magritte, titled The Human Condition, dated 1933

René Magritte, The Human Condition, 1933. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

René Magritte, The Human Condition, 1933. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

A detail of a painting by Frank Moore, titled The Curators, dated 1996

Frank Moore, The Curators, 1996 (detail)

Frank Moore, The Curators, 1996 (detail)

“Painting has become, for me, an intensely sensual activity. At times my awareness seems to project out of my body to occupy the space between my brush and the canvas.... The forms I paint, whether rocks or muscles or water and hair, all play upon my senses and become quite real.”

—Frank Moore

An installation view of an exhibition titled Frank Moore: Five Paintings, at David Zwirner, New York, in 2022.

Installation view, Frank Moore: Five Paintings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Installation view, Frank Moore: Five Paintings, David Zwirner, New York, 2022

Inquire about works by Frank Moore

A painting by Frank Moore, titled Wizard, dated 1994.

Frank Moore

Wizard, 1994
Oil and silkscreen on canvas on wood with pharmaceuticals cast in lucite in an aluminum frame
68 x 96 inches (172.7 x 243.8 cm)
A painting by Frank Moore, titled Lullaby, dated 1997.

Frank Moore

Lullaby, 1997
Oil on canvas on featherboard with red pine frame
50 x 67 1/2 inches (127 x 171.4 cm)
A painting by Frank Moore, titled Nursery, dated 1994.

Frank Moore

Nursery, 1994
Oil on canvas on wood with enamel frame
29 1/8 x 53 inches (74 x 134.6 cm)
A painting by Frank Moore, titled Spring, dated 1996.

Frank Moore

Spring, 1996
Oil on canvas on wood panel
26 x 56 inches (66 x 142.2 cm)
A painting by Frank Moore, titled The Curators, dated 1996.

Frank Moore

The Curators, 1996
Oil on canvas panel with frame
70 3/8 x 88 3/8 inches (178.8 x 224.5 cm)
A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Survival of the Fattest, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Study for "Survival of the Fattest", 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
31 x 23 5/8 inches (78.7 x 60 cm)
A painting by Frank Moore, titled Invertebration II, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Invertebration II, 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
19 3/4 x 29 inches (50.2 x 73.7 cm)
A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Invertebration I, dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Invertebration I, 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
29 x 19 3/4 inches (73.7 x 50.2 cm)
A work on paper by Frank Moore, titled Study for "A Midsummer's Night", dated 1995.

Frank Moore

Study for "A Midsummer's Night", 1995
Gouache and watercolor on Arches paper in carved cherry frame
31 x 21 3/4 inches (78.7 x 55.3 cm)

    Read More Read Less

      Read More Read Less

          Five Paintings

          Frank Moore

            Inquire

            To learn more about this artwork, please provide your contact information.

            By sharing your details you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
            This site is also protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

            Inquire

            To learn more about available works, please provide your contact information

            By sharing your details you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.This site is also
            protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.