In highly detailed figurative paintings, Frank Moore (1953–2002) created compelling vistas of alternate universes replete with fantastic imagery. Often autobiographical, many of his works reference his HIV-positive status and the state of the health care industry. Others address ecological concerns and the dangers of genetically modified foods. Meticulously researching each of his themes, Moore devised an arsenal of symbols to depict them. Toxic Beauty spans Moore’s entire career—cut short too early by his death from AIDS—and continues across Washington Square Park at NYU’s Fales Library

Born in New York City, Moore was raised on Long Island and spent his childhood summers in the Adirondacks, sparking a lifelong interest in the natural environment. After studying art and psychology at Yale University, he spent a year (1977–78) in Paris. Moore returned to Manhattan in 1979, where he actively participated in the burgeoning Downtown art scene. In 1985 he purchased a country home in Deposit, New York, where he began growing vegetables. Gardening drew his attention to America’s vast industrial farms and ill-used national parks—in his words, nature’s “sites of great, but toxic, beauty.” Many of his paintings reflect his admiration for Hudson River School landscape artists. But rather than marveling at nature’s sublime power, Moore focused on the looming threat of environmental pollution.

Moore often encased his two-dimensional paintings in intricate three-dimensional frames composed of diverse materials, creating dynamic and, at times, unsettling associations. In addition to painting and drawing, he also collaborated on performances, dance productions, and films. During the 1980s, he worked with choreographer Jim Self on the experimental film Beehive, a balletic narrative that is screened at Fales alongside his sketches for costume and set designs, storyboards, and production notes. Moore was also a deeply committed activist. An integral member of the group Visual AIDS, he played a crucial role in creating the AIDS red ribbon and helped develop the Archive Project. At once seductive and mysterious, the art of Frank Moore provides entrée into captivating visions by this talented painter and consummate storyteller.

Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore
is organized by the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, and curated by Susan Harris with Lynn Gumpert. It is made possible in part by the generous support of the Gesso Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Gian Enzo Sperone, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Beth Rudin DeWoody. Additional support is provided by the Grey’s Director’s Circle, Inter/National Council, and
Friends; and the Abby Weed Grey Trust.

Created by Frank Moore's sister Rebecca Moore and Denise Zmekhol, this short film offers an intimate view
of the artist's life and work, including interviews with him, images of his works, and views of his house and grounds in Deposit, New York.