The Ministry of Artistic Affairs
Thursday, November 11, 2010

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. Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic quality of his projects, including several monumentally scaled canvases. His work expresses deep concerns about the world’s fragile ecosystems and the tension between nature and culture, which are communicated through vivid, even apocalyptic, imagery. 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.

Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is the first major survey of the artist's work and features 47 paintings and works on paper from private and public collections. 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.

The exhibition traces Rockman's artistic development from the mid-1980s to the present. Highlights include Evolution (1992), his first mural-sized painting, and Manifest Destiny (2003-2004), an ambitious large-scale work commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art.

Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow
Smithsonian American Art Museum
November 19, 2010 - May 8, 2011

For more information, please visit the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.