Alexis Rockman might be called an unnatural history artist.
Drawing on the visual language of natural history artists, botanical illustrators and and paleontological reconstruction artists, along with a fascination for diorama-style cut-aways and mural-like panoramas, Rockman puts the the time machine in the other gear and moves us into the future, depicting familiar landmarks in the aftermath of ecological or bioengineering disasters.
He also applies his skills to more direct portrayals of the natural world, but it is his fantastic visions, sometimes surreal in their dreamlike juxtapositions of animal and plant life with the artifacts of human construction, that resonate most strongly.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is displaying a major exhibition of Rockman’s work, covering the span of his career with almost 50 paintings.
Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow takes its name from the first chapter of Rachel Carson’s A Silent Spring, the first book to bring the fragility of the ecosystem into the awareness of the general public. There is a gallery on the museum’s site.
Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is also the title of a book created to accompany the exhibition.
There is also a gallery on Wired Science that allows a quick overview of his work.
Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until may 8, 2011.