A hospital bed, pale blue sheets and pillows, white snowflakes. Where there might be an individual nestling his head into the pillow, there is instead a small pile of autumn leaves. In the center of one of the leaves, a small metal-like pentagon. Other leaves flutter on the bed and a small bird is perched on the bed railing above the pillow. There is blood issuing from a needle that is lying on the bed and is attached through tubing to an inverted bottle containing blood labeled "Irradiated" and "Moore, 1997." The juxtaposition of pastel colors and snowflakes with the leaking blood is striking.


Frank Moore studied art and psychology at Yale University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1975. His approach toward painting involved extensive research on subjects of interest, including ecology, biology, and environmental issues. In 1987 he and his partner were diagnosed as HIV-positive; his partner, Robert Fulps,  died in 1991. AIDS, sexuality, death, nature, and environmental pollution became interwoven in Moore's work. Many of his paintings would generate useful discussion in a medical humanities context.
In 1995, Moore was diagnosed and treated for lymphoma. This painting derives from his hospitalization and treatment. It is one of three paintings that depict the bed, the snowflakes, and have the same pale blue color - the other two are "Lullaby" (1997) and "Lullaby II" (1997). All three are strikingly beautiful. "Lullaby" brings a herd of buffalo onto the bed. Some animals are single, some in pairs. This glorious natural scene is transformed in "Lullaby II" in which a polar bear turns toward the viewer with a bloody mouth, as he hovers over a small prey he is eating. Bloody footprints lead from a watery opening in the "ice" to the bear and his prey. Two other polar bears are perched on a pillow in the background, on the lookout. "Patient" and "Lullaby" are framed in red pine, establishing their subject as linked to the natural environment. "Lullaby II" is framed in wood painted white, appropriate to the Arctic world depicted on the bed. All three paintings interweave the patient and his illness with nature, beautiful and harsh.


Painted 1997-1998. The two Lullaby paintings are also in the book, Toxic Beauty (See Alternate Source).

Primary Source

Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore. Editors Klaus Kertess, Susan Harris, and Greg Bordowitz. New York: Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 2012 (plate 34)