If you’ve seen photographs of performances by the likes of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Trisha Brown, and Nam June Paik, you probably have Peter Moore to thank. Beginning in 1960 and until he died in 1993, Moore shot essential images of avant-garde artists at work in the U.S., offering important documentation of strange, cutting-edge events that were fleeting in their nature.
Now, Moore’s vast archive has found a permanent home at the libraries of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which has acquired 15,000 master contact sheets, 5,000 color slides, and other ephemera related to the artist, as well as the copyrights to his work. The news comes as New York’s Paula Cooper Gallery prepares to mount a Moore survey opening this week.
“It’s been my long-standing dream to add Peter Moore to our roster of artists’ archives, many of whom were extensively photographed by Moore,” Scott Krafft, a curator at Northwestern University’s Charles Deering McCormick Library, said in an email. “This huge body of work is not only a monument of Peter Moore’s life but serves as a spine linking the archives of John Cage, Dick Higgins, Philip Corner, and Geoffrey Hendricks, which also reside at Northwestern. It’s a fantastic concentration of resources for future scholars.”
Among the pictures headed to Northwestern are images documenting an array of storied events known as happenings, including 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, an event series in 1966 that became the first in a series called Experiments in Art and Technology that involved artists such as Rauschenberg, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. The work also features pictures of the experimental cellist Charlotte Moorman, who performed pieces by Paik and Joseph Beuys, and works by figures involved with the Fluxus movement. Evident in all of these images by Moore are the offbeat ways in which these creators merged life and art in pioneering ways.
The archive also includes works from a four-year series documenting the demolition of Pennsylvania Station in New York, which Moore photographed in various states, as well as commercial work by the artist.