NEW YORK—On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the gallery, October 1968, Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by Peter Moore, the prolific visual historian of the avant-garde in the 1960s and 70s. Taken primarily in 1968, a year marked by seismic shifts in American politics, social movements, and an expanded notion of artistic practice, the images on view introduce the cultural landscape of New York in which Paula Cooper Gallery first opened. “Peter Moore: 1968” will be on view at 521 West 21st Street from October 6th to 27th, 2018. The show is presented alongside “50 Years: An Anniversary,” opening October 9th at the gallery’s new space on 26th Street.
As a part of New York’s blossoming art community in the early 1960s, Moore (1932–1993) began what was to become an unmatched photographic archive of Fluxus, Judson Dance Theater, and countless “Happenings,” capturing in his photographs the defiance and spirit of the era’s experimental performances. Conceived in collaboration with Barbara Moore, this exhibition of vintage photographs, slides and ephemera from 1968 presents images of such iconic artists and performers as Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, Simone Forti, Walter De Maria, La Monte Young, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Diane di Prima, Deborah Hay, Dick Higgins and Julian Beck. A series of rarely seen color images depict Stan VanDerBeek in his Movie Drome Theater in Stony Point, NY, a grain silo dome turned “infinite projection screen.” Other images show the first full-length performance of Yvonne Rainer’s The Mind Is a Muscle, arguably her most celebrated work; Thomas Hart Benton restoring his monumental, politically charged mural America Today (1930-31) at The New School; and several events from the 1968 Sixth Annual New York Avant Garde Festival.
These precise black and white photographs capture scenes in Moore’s own distinctive style, a visual language that has become synonymous with performance art of this period: a use of space, the body, light, and fantastic props to create startling, unpredictable ambiance. In a 1974 interview Moore stated: “I have always dissociated myself completely from making any critical comment, consciously, in a photograph. I try to photograph documentarily … What you’re trying to do is to do justice, as much as you are able to, to the intent of the artist, rather than impose your own point of view … [But] essentially I am still limited to photographing my reaction to the rhythm of the piece. I am selecting the instance primarily on that basis; so I can’t get rid of myself altogether.” Fifty years after these ephemeral events, Moore’s photographs present a pivotal history of artists at the forefront of avant-garde experimentation and those iconic spaces, including 80 Wooster Street, Caffe Cino, and Midsummer, NY, where performance, music, dance and visual art intersected in radical and transformative ways.
Born in London, Moore (1932-1993) attended Haverford College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his career in New York as a photo lab technician at Life magazine and an assistant to O. Winston Link. In the 1970s and 80s, Moore wrote prolifically on the mechanics of photography, including as Technical Editor, and then as Senior Technical Editor at Modern Photography magazine (1978-89). His work was included in the 1970 show “Happenings and Fluxus” at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne, Germany; “Alternative Gestures: Another Look at Dance Photography” at P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York (1978); the Fluxus pavilion at the 1990 Venice Biennale; “In the Spirit of Fluxus” at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1993); the 2nd Lyon Biennale (1993); “Art, Lies and Videotape” at Tate Liverpool (2003); “Simone Forti. Thinking with the Body: A Retrospective in Motion” at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (2014); “The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles: 1960-1980” at the Art Institute of Chicago (2014-15); and the 14th Lyon Biennale (2017), among many others. He has had one-person exhibitions around the world, including Ecart, Geneva, Switzerland (1980); Gallery 360º, Tokyo, Japan (1989); Galerie Alfred Kren, Cologne, Germany (“The Avant-Garde Observed,” 1990); Sonnabend Gallery, New York (2004); and several one-person shows at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2009, 2011, 2015, 2018).
Currently a large selection of Moore’s photographs are on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in the exhibition “Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done” through February 3, 2019. His images have been widely published in texts about the period, including Democracy’s Body: Judson Dance Theater, 1962-1964 (1983), In the Spirit of Fluxus (1993), Yvonne Rainer: Radical Juxtapositions 1961-2002 (2002), and Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia and Rutgers University 1958-1972 (2003); among others. In 2000, D.A.P. published The Destruction of Penn Station, which presented Moore’s previously unseen documentation of New York’s Pennsylvania Station demolition.
For more information, please contact the gallery: (212) 255-1105 or