International exhibitions

International 2010 Archives

Alexis Rockman, A Fable for Tomorrow
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington (USA).
19.11.2010 - 08.05.2011


07.09 - 25.11.2012

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Press release

Alexis Rockman (b. 1962) has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit for more than two decades. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change. His work expresses deep concerns about the world’s fragile ecosystems and the tension between nature and culture. These concerns are communicated through vivid, even apocalyptic, imagery. Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic quality of his projects, including several monumentally scaled canvases.

Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is the first major survey of the artist's work and features 47 paintings and works on paper that trace his career from early works in the mid-1980s to the present. The title of the exhibition is taken from the opening chapter of Rachel Carson's influential 1962 book Silent Spring. In it, Carson combines two seemingly incompatible literary genres - mythic narrative and factual reportage. Rockman approaches his paintings with a similar intent. Rockman achieves his vision through a synthesis of fantasy and empirical fact, using sources as varied as natural history, botanical illustrations, museum dioramas, science fiction films, realist art traditions dating back to the Renaissance, and firsthand field study.


Exhibition November 19, 2010 - May 8, 2011. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F Streets N.W. Washington, D.C. Tel.: +1 202 633 79 70. Open daily 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Alexis Rockman, A Fable for Tomorrow,Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved

Alexis Rockman, Pond's Edge, 1986

Alexis Rockman, Pond's Edge, 1986

Toughout his career, Rockman has developped subjects and themes in series. Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow marks the first time that key paintings from different projects are exhibited together, beginning with the lyrical Pond's Edge (1986), drawn from the artist's earliest series exploring the field of natural history, to The Reef (2009), part of his most recent body of work titled Half Life, which combines color-field abstraction and environmental concerns.

The exhibition includes three large-scale paintings that are ambitious turning points in Rockman's artistic development. Evolution (1992), Rockman's first mural-sized painting, is a panoramic sweep that owes as much to a pop cinema stylistic sensibility as it does to actual prehistory. Manifest Destiny (2003-2004), commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, depicts an apocalyptic vision of the Brooklyn waterfront submerged as the result of global warming. South (2008), an epic panorama drawn from the artist's observations while on a trip to Antarctica, documents every aspect of iceberg geology through simultaneous views above and below the water's surface.

The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art.