Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Alexis Rockman on ‘The Whale Strikes Back’

Alexis Rockman's art on the cover of the June 25, 2021 Dan's Papers issue
Alexis Rockman’s art on the cover of the June 25, 2021 Dan’s Papers issue

This week’s cover art was created by lauded New York-based artist Alexis Rockman, who has a long history of visualizing the often apocalyptic collision between human civilization and nature.

His work has been shown at the Brooklyn Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In 2013, The Drawing Center showcased the watercolor concept paintings that Rockman famously created for director Ang Lee, who had commissioned the paintings to serve as inspiration for his 2012 theatrical adaptation of Life of Pi.

Artist Alexis Rockman and Guild Hall Executive Director Andrea Grover. Credit: Barry Gordin

Rockman’s work is currently on view at Guild Hall in East Hampton in an exciting exhibition curated by Executive Director Andrea Grover titled Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks. The show is a collection of new paintings and works on papers—including this week’s cover art “The Whale Strikes Back”—that view Earth’s waterways as a network by which language, culture, history, art, cuisine, religion, disease, warfare has spread across the globe. With intense, dreamy illustrations of shipwrecks and cargo lost overboard, Rockman addresses the impact of migration, colonization and trade on the planet. The exhibition is on view Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. through July 26.

Titanic” by Alexis Rockman. Credit: Adam Riech

Tell us about “The Whale Strikes Back” and the inspiration behind both this action-packed piece.

Any project about the history of shipwrecks must have a whaling image. “The Whale Strikes Back” is from the point of view of the whale and is a key work in my exhibition Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks. This work was inspired by a fantastic 19th century maritime painting by Charles S. Raleigh—I did my own version.

“Hawaii” by Alexis Rockman. Credit: Kira Buckel

What makes this piece such an ideal fit for a Dan’s Papers cover?

“The Whale Strikes Back” is the perfect cover for Dan’s Papers because it can remind us of the rich history of the East End of Long Island. Whales and whaling were a way of life for centuries, especially in Sag Harbor, where my wife and I have spent many wonderful years. Now, hopefully, we just want to watch and enjoy the whales alive.

“The Lifeboat of the HMS Erebus” by Alexis Rockman. Credit: Adam Riech

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m thrilled to be able to show Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks exhibition at Guild Hall. Curator Andrea Grover and her staff were great to work with. It is a dream come true.

Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Call 631-324-0806 or visit guildhall.org for more info.

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