Frank Moore: Painting Death

Frank Moore, Easter, 1994, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 27 1/8 inches
Frank Moore, Easter, 1994, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 27 1/8 inches

Mira Schor reviews the exhibition Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library, New York, on view through December 8, 2012.

Schor writes that "instead of accepting the narrative of the death of painting, [Moore] turned from performance/video to painting when the subject turned from life to death... Many of [Moore's] paintings have ambitious narrative programs, addressing complex and highly emotionally charged subjects, in particular the countless painful and dramatic aspects of the personal, cultural and medical struggle to deal with AIDS before the development of relatively successful drug protocols. The paintings are executed mostly in a mixed technique of oil and silkscreen on linen or canvas, mounted on wood or some sort of board, very carefully painted, with extremely smooth surfaces, fine lines, and a great attention to detail. The craft of the execution is essential to point out because it is so important to see these works in person, they yield only a fraction of their impact or meaning when they are experienced only as images."

Schor continues, vividly describing paintings such as Easter: "Blood seeps out of two slices into a loaf of bread and into the middle of a puddle of spilled heavy cream which has oozed out from an overturned cartoon. The red paint has been dropped into the pool of white paint to create a very careful Jackson Pollock in the shape of a Crown of Thorns. The Christ reference and the art reference are at the center of a still-life painting with an almost folk art sensibility: the dusting of flour on the loaf of bread is created with a kind of spray effect which is completely different in technical feel than the loaf, or the cream and blood spill. It’s a folk Zurbaran of the AIDS era."