Press Release

Harvard University Art Museums Acquire the Barbara and Peter Moore Fluxus Collection

Key objects and multiples by George Brecht, Christo, Claes Oldenburg, and Yoko Ono enhance Harvard’s collection of postwar art
Tue, 07/12/2005 - 18:16 -- wds
Cambridge, MA
July 12, 2005

The Harvard University Art Museums today announced the acquisition of the Barbara and Peter Moore Fluxus Collection, one of the most important groups of Fluxus materials in North America. The acquisition is a partial gift from Barbara Moore, and a partial purchase made through the Museums’ Margaret Fisher Fund. The Moore Collection is a large and comprehensive group of works assembled by Barbara and Peter Moore, both of whom were intimately involved with the Fluxus movement as close friends and sometime collaborators with artist George Maciunas, the movement’s principal organizer. This intact, first-owner collection adds a crucial element to the Fogg Art Museum’s collection of postwar art and places HUAM’s Fluxus holdings among the most significant Fluxus collections in the United States.

The Barbara and Peter Moore Fluxus Collection features a remarkable range of Fluxus editions and multiples dating from the movement’s inception in the early 1960s through the late 1970s. The Moore collection consists of 121 works, some of which are themselves collections of many smaller pieces. These include works by Yoko Ono, Claes Oldenburg, George Brecht, and Christo, among many others, as well as early and rare examples of many key multiples, a number of unique and rare works, and prototypes or models for editions. Taken together, the Moore Collection constitutes a vital research tool that gives scholars a glimpse into the creative process by demonstrating through variations of the same work how the conception of each object changed over time, and revealing paths not taken through editions that were planned but never realized.

The Harvard University Art Museum’s educational mission makes it an ideal home for Fluxus works, providing students and researchers the close interaction with these objects that is so crucial to understanding the ideas that led to their creation. To foster this type of intimate study, the Barbara and Peter Moore Fluxus Collection will be available to museum visitors in the Fogg Museum’s Agnes Mongan Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

The Moore Collection also complements the Willy and Charlotte Reber Collection of multiples and unique works by Joseph Beuys held by Harvard’s Busch-Reisinger Museum, enabling scholars and students to study these works in close counterpoint.

“The Barbara and Peter Moore Fluxus Collection is a key addition to the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, continuing our commitment to building our holdings of works from the last half of the twentieth century,” said Thomas Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums. “Following our long tradition of access to and study from original works of art, students and scholars will now be able to experience these works directly, in the interdisciplinary spirit of Fluxus.”

Fluxus
Fluxus—from the Latin for ‘flow’ or ‘change’—was the name given by the movement’s principal organizer George Maciunas to a loosely-affiliated, international group of artists in the 1960s and ‘70s. Fluxus remains an active movement today, although with new artists and constantly evolving practices. The original Fluxus group worked across a wide range of media, including poetry, music, film, performances, and ephemeral “events,” in its efforts to contest the cultural conception of what is “Art” and the prominence of the individual artist. Under Maciunas’s leadership, the concept of the multiple lay at the heart of Fluxus object-making.

From posters, broadsheets, and handbills to stamps, tablecloths, playing cards, and a variety of boxed multiples, Fluxus objects continue to defy easy categorization even within the context of postwar art. In contrast to Pop Art, in which mass culture was imported into the realm of high art, Fluxus attempted the inverse: to integrate the production of art into the realm of everyday experience, often willfully pushing the distinction between the two to its breaking point. The Fluxus approach involves the design and fabrication of inexpensive, theoretically unlimited editions using commercial methods and materials. It often requires the participation of the viewer in order to complete the work.

Barbara and Peter Moore
Barbara Moore is an art historian, writer, and former rare-book dealer specializing in avant-garde art of the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. She was first editor (1965–66) at Dick Higgins’s seminal Something Else Press. Since then she has written essays on and curated exhibitions of artist’s books, multiples, and alternative media, covering the work of Dieter Roth, Lawrence Weiner, Charlotte Moorman, Peter Moore, Boekie Woekie, and many others. Among numerous projects on the subject of Fluxus, she curated the first Fluxus exhibition in New York, Collectors of the Seventies, Part III: The Sohm Archive (The Clocktower, 1975); wrote George Maciunas: A Finger in Fluxus, about Maciunas’s graphic design (Art Forum, 1982), and curated George Maciunas: More Than Fluxus—Graphic Design, Objects, Ephemera (Ubu Gallery, 1996).

Peter Moore (1932–1993) photographed Fluxus activities, happenings, Judson Dance Theater, and multimedia and other innovative performances from the 1960s through the 1980s. Selections from his extraordinary photographic archive, consisting of several hundred thousand black-and-white and color images documenting this era, have been exhibited and published internationally. Moore began his career as assistant to the photographer O. Winston Link in the 1950s, studied with W. Eugene Smith among others, and was Senior Technical Editor of Modern Photography magazine (1978–1989). His visual history of the demolition of Pennsylvania Station was published in 2000 in The Destruction of Penn Station: Photographs by Peter Moore, edited and with an introduction by Barbara Moore.