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 Alexis Rockman  (1962 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: mod still life, surreal and animal painting-environment

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Ad Code: 3
Alexis Rockman
from Auction House Records.
Hot House, 2004
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Based in New York City, Alexis Rockman creates botanical, insect, and mammal studies that create a dialogue between art and science. Many of his works are "creepy-crawly" perverse such as one of his better known pieces, "The Ecotourist" in 1997 that shows his own decaying body in the rain forest with exotic animals making off with his private body parts.

One of his paintings titled "The Farm," was reproduced on an electronic billboard on the corner of Lafayette and Houston streets in New York City, and Rockman said to generate a sophisticated image, he learned a lot about psychology and genetic engineering from Rob De Salle at the American Museum of Natural History. The work according to Rockman is designed for the "quick take" and offers a glimpse of farm animals that have transposed body parts such as wings and limbs.

As a child raised in New York City, he had much exposure to the American Museum of Natural History where his mother worked for archaeologist Margaret Mead. He began collecting specimens and early determined to be a scientist.

Rockman graduated from York Prep School, studied film at the Rhode Island School of Design, and then enrolled in New York's School of Visual Arts majoring in illustration, thinking this was the only way he could express his zoological interests. Then he switched to fine art and began showing his work in the East Village. A major influence in encouraging him to a more modernist bent was artist Ross Bleckner, whom Rockman briefly served as an assistant.

Alexis does large scale murals of pre-historic life and has travelled extensively throughout the world taking photographs for subject matter. Many of his pieces are used for illustration, but because his style is realistic, he has had trouble being accepted among Manhattan critics, galleries, and museums. For 15 years, his New York gallery has been Bravin + Lee, and he lives around the corner from his studio with his wife Jill Rowe.

In 1999, he was commissioned by the state of Washington to do a panel painting for the new Harbor View Medical Center at the University of Washington, but the commission was cancelled when the Board of Directors began receiving threats from animal rights groups. Rockman titled his work "A Recent History of the World," which is a map of five continents showing the impact of human and animal activity. It is 5 by 20 feet and includes a gorilla with a gun to its head and a woman in a bikini destroying birds' eggs.

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