Alexis Rockman: Manifest Destiny
- Dates: April 17, 2004 through September 12, 2004
- Collections: Contemporary Art
March 2004: An apocalyptic vision of a future Brooklyn, created by painter Alexis Rockman, has been commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of its new Eastern Parkway entrance and plaza in April 2004. Alexis Rockman: Manifest Destiny, an eight foot by twenty-four foot mural, will portray a Brooklyn in which much of the borough is submerged under water as a result of global warming. It will be on view in the second-floor Mezzanine Gallery, overlooking the renovated Grand Lobby and new glass entrance pavilion, from April 17 through September 12, 2004, to be followed by an eighteen-month tour to other venues.
Rockman, whose works frequently blend science and fantasy, anticipates ecological disasters that are often created by human error or inattention. In Manifest Destiny, Brooklyn will become a vast floodplain from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In this visionary work, familiar landmarks will be submerged beneath the waters, creating a new geology and hosting a wide variety of aquatic plants and animals.
A former columnist and illustrator for Natural History magazine, Alexis Rockman will draw upon extensive scientific research, including consultation with NASA climatologists, to create this large-scale work. He has also worked closely with architect Diane Lewis, who has developed detailed architectural renderings to actual scale of the sections of Brooklyn to be depicted, which Rockman will then transform into an underwater ruin inhabited by botanical and zoological species. The architectural drawings will be exhibited along with the mural in the exhibition.
Rockman, who believes that the past holds clues to the future, will also draw upon the Museum’s renowned collection of American paintings for inspiration. Among the works he will be studying is Albert Bierstadt’s iconic Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie (1866), the monumental rendering of a pristine Western landscape before the westward expansion of the railroad.
In preparation for creating previous imaginary future landscapes, in addition to his prodigious research, Alexis Rockman has consulted with biologists, zoologists, and paleontologists and has done field work in such remote locations as the rainforests in Guyana. Born in 1962, the son of archaeologist Diana Wall, Rockman spent a part of his childhood in a remote section of Peru, as well as endless hours exploring the American Museum of Natural History, where his mother worked for a time for the late Margaret Mead. Rockman has said that the dioramas at that museum have been an important influence on his work.
Rockman studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, and at the School of Visual Arts in New York. For nearly two decades he has worked in his own Tribeca studio, where he creates his fantastic images of future ecological nightmares.
Alexis Rockman’s work as been exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, among them Pulp Art: Vamps, Villains, and Victors from the Robert Lesser Collection recently presented at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in a section which explored the impact of this genre on contemporary artists. His work is in many public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Baltimore Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is also in several private collections including that of X-Files star Gillian Anderson, who owns Rockman’s Ecotourist, a diorama-like painting in which the artist represents himself as a decaying corpse. Rockman has also been a contributor to many publications, and has taught at Columbia and Harvard Universities.
Manifest Destiny is organized by Tumelo Mosaka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from Tim Nye—The MAT Charitable Foundation & Foundation 20 21, and the Dorothea Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas. The May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation supported publication of the Exhibition Catalogue.
- Welcome to Brooklyn, Circa 5004April 11, 2004 Photo from exhibit by Alexis Rockman of future of Brooklyn waterfront at Brooklyn Museum
- ART/ARCHITECTURE; New York's Watery New GraveApril 11, 2004 By LINDA YABLONSKYLinda Yablonsky article on Alexis Rockman's painting Manifest Destiny, futuristic view of Brooklyn waterfront circa 5004; traces work from initial idea, to use of photographic views, to computer projections provided by architect Diane Lewis; completed 24-foot-long work will be unveiled at Brooklyn Museum; Rockman comments; photos (M)
- CorrectionsApril 11, 2004 Correction of picture caption in Arts & Leisure section; Alexis Rockman's mural Manifest Destiny is shown unfinished (S)
- CorrectionsApril 11, 2004 "A picture caption on Page 28 of Arts & Leisure today with an article about ''Manifest Destiny,'' the mural by Alexis Rockman that will be unveiled at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, refers incorrectly to the version shown, which also appears on the section's front page. It is an unfinished version, photographed in December 2003, not the finished..."
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