Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow features 47 artworks from private and public collections that trace Rockman's career from Pond’s Edge (1986) to The Reef (2009), with its timely reminder of the fragile ecosystems that lie just out of sight but never out of danger. Inspired by nineteenth-century landscape painting, science fiction film, and first-hand field study, Rockman’s paintings proffer a vision of the natural world that is equal parts fantasy and empirical fact.
This vividly illustrated volume highlights the artist’s unique synthesis of art and science, along with his meticulous attention to detail and striking use of colour. Rockman’s three monumental paintings—Evolution, Manifest Destiny, and South—exemplify the boundless imagination and extraordinary skill that go into every painting. The compelling mix of intensely coloured realism, scientific detail, and environmental polemic results in art that is both a demand for action and an elegy over what has been lost.
Author Joanna Marsh examines the evolution of Rockman’s career over three decades, convincingly linking his artistic development to the history of America’s environmental movement. Rockman’s ability to blur the boundary between fact and fiction appeals to both scientists and art critics. In two further essays art historian Kevin Avery considers the nineteenth-century-painting references in Rockman’s work, and Thomas Lovejoy offers the perspective of an expert on biodiversity and climate change.
Joanna Marsh is the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Kevin J. Avery is a senior research scholar at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Thomas Lovejoy is a leading biologist and Biodiversity Chair at The Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington, D.C.