Peter Moriarty

American, born 1952

SELECTION FROMHot Houses, Warm Curves, exhibition at BigTown Gallery 
Photographs of 18th & 19th century greenhouses from around the world.

Warm Room (Japanese for greenhouse) is a unique portfolio of 56 gelatin-silver prints of the distinctive 18th and 19th century greenhouses of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Berkeley, London, Chatsworth, Belgium and France. These Orangeries, Greenhouses, Warm Rooms, Limonaia, Conservatories, Serres, Aboretum, or Glass Houses, as they are known in their respective countries, were built to preserve plant specimens gathered by world explorers; to extend the life of citrus fruit, to advance the medicinal uses of plants, and to propagate grape vines for export. Taken over a period of twenty years starting in 1990's when the artist lived close to the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island the project is on-going. Influenced by early 20th century artists, mainly Alfred Stieglitz and his circle, Peter Moriarty's work reflects a similar focus for appreciating the subject in its natural environment. In this portfolio he freely explores the interaction of forms in the light-saturated architecture to reveal an exotic and atmospheric mutability rather than an exact replication of these iconic structures. The graphic strength of this exquisite sequence of photographs lies in how it highlights the uniform quality of purpose and significance entwined in the greenhouse endeavor. Rarely has there been a more photogenic subject matter.

It has been suggested that these are photographs of opportunity for they are a record of the artist's life as he moves from one side of the country to the other visiting his daughters, one in law school in Chicago at the time, the other dancing in Berkeley. They are surely that, but they differ in their frank deliberation, a contemplative quality, less “street” in nature. Botanists share their collective knowledge, and just so, conservatories take on and reflect similar explorations and functional elaborations, especially as seen in their architecture, around the world; in 2010, Moriarty received a travel grant so that he could document European counterparts to the sister institutions he'd been photographing in America. He planned his six week itinerary prepared by the advice received from the NY Botanical Garden's, Mertz Library staff. Thus informed, Moriarty selected camera equipment that was light, nimble and efficient, heading out with a hand-held flash and Leica camera. With these, he captured some of the many rare and protected splendors of the conservatories of Europe, not frequently investigated in a continuous project of this kind. The portfolio is comprised of real photographs; taken with film; printed in a traditional darkroom. Gelatin-silver prints are technologically contemporaneous and in keeping with the coming of age of both the greenhouse and the camera.

- Rochester Institute of Technology MFA Photography (1979)
- University of New Hampshire BA magna cum laude Philosophy (1974)

- Addison Gallery of American – Art Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
- Davison Art Center Wesleyan University – Middletown, CT
- George Eastman Museum – Rochester, NY
- Mount Holyoke College Art Museum – South Hadley, MA
- Princeton University Art Museum – Princeton, NJ
- Sao Paulo Museum of Art – Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Yale University Art Gallery – New Haven, CT
- Worcester Art Museum – Worcester, MA

- Lotte Jacobi Photographs (2003) – David Godine, Boston, MA
- Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like? (2003) Jane Gottesman Random House, NY
- Muybridge Motion Studies (1990) Jim Sheldon Voyager Press Laserdisc
- Toward an Aesthetic of the Muybridge Animal Locomotion Plates (1887) article

- Dartmouth College (1991) Hopkins Center Hanover, NH
- Fitchburg Art Museum (1997) Fitchburg, MA
- Fleming Museum(1990) University of Vermont Burlington, VT
- Fogg Museum (1989) Harvard University Cambridge, MA
- George Eastman Museum (1980) Rochester, NY
- Middlebury College (1979 & 1986) Johnson Gallery Middlebury, VT
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum (1992) Cambridge, MA
- SoHo Photo (2006) NY, NY


"Gallery Profile: BigTown Gallery Vergennes" - Rachel Elizabeth Jones, Seven Days