Go See – Washington, DC: Alexis Rockman – A Fable for Tomorrow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until May 8th, 2011

April 10th, 2011

Alexis Rockman, Manifest Destiny (2003-2004), via the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow, is currently open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until May 8th. It is Rockman’s first major career retrospective, and showcases 47 paintings and works on paper.  The New York City artist has for more than two decades defied the parameters of traditional artistic collaboration through his work with scientists and researchers such as Peter Douglass Ward and molecular biologist Rob DeSalle, and the title of the show is a reference to environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.

Alexis Rockman, Hollywood at Night (2006), via the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

More text and images after the jump…

The series of stunning landscapes are apocalyptic and fantastical, yet firmly rooted in science and empirical evidence. In Manifest Destiny, Rockman depicts the Brooklyn waterfront in the year 5004 after greenhouse gases have melted the polar caps and sea levels have risen and overtaken human life.  However, not all of his work is morbid and alarmist.  In Barnyard Scene, Rockman shows a raccoon mating with a rooster and Jungle Fever shows a praying mantis mating with a chipmunk.

Alexis Rockman, Host and Vector (1996), via the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Taking strong inspiration from his frequent childhood travels to Australia and subsequent trips to Costa Rica, Brazil, Madagascar, Guyana, Tasmania, and Anatartica, Rockman’s paintings not only imitate present life on Earth but envision and forecast a dark future in which climate change and genetic engineering has altered the earth as we currently view it.

Alexis Rockman, Aviary (1992), via the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Not surprisingly, the artist is known for his vociferous support for Riverkeeper, an NGO spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Amanda Hearst, which fights pollution in the Hudson River and advocates cleaner waters.

- I. Kim

Alexis Rockman The Balance of Terror (2009)

Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Smithsonian]
Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow [Wired]
Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow in Washington DC [The Washington Post]

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