new-york

Frank Moore

Sperone Westwater

The extensive recent exhibition of Frank Moore’s last paintings and selected earlier works revealed an obsessive intelligence offset by a dewy-eyed (if winking) indulgence in over-the-top fantasy and shameless kitsch. Moore, who died of AIDS in 2002 at age forty-eight, employed an elementary school affability toward ends both macabre and slapstick, expressive of the vast humor required to grapple meaningfully with such tropes of our contemporary apocalypse as wanton materialism, the degradation of the biosphere, disease, and the Faustian bargains struck in the biological sciences.

One of Moore’s better-known paintings is Debutantes, 1992, a polemical allegory whose searing humor issues from outrage. In the foreground, two wide-eyed boys, one black, one white, stroll in an awkward, partial embrace through a sort of nightmare schoolyard, tugged by a Scottish terrier toward an androgynous,

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