Alexis Rockman in The Washington Post
Philip Kennicott discusses a recent installation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that pairs Hudson River School painter Thomas Moran's Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893-1901) with Alexis Rockman's Manifest Destiny (2004).
He writes, "The Moran painting is an 8-by-14-foot vision of Yellowstone canyon and its beloved waterfall, blasted by sun through a roiling sea of clouds. The Rockman canvas, an 8-by 24-foot bleak, futuristic image of the Brooklyn waterfront, imagines the toll of global warming as ocean water submerges the city and makes a ruin of its infrastructure. These two works are now in dialogue, and the conversation — about our use and abuse of the natural world — is profoundly disquieting. Even more striking is the power of Rockman’s painting, which doesn’t feel like an ironic comment on the Moran, nor a pendant to it.
This is a dialogue among equal interlocutors, which suggests that large-scale landscape painting is still a vigorous form, especially in large public venues such as the Smithsonian, and it could play a vital role in how 21st-century Americans grapple with the destruction we are wreaking on the planet."