Manifest Destiny is a painting that was created by Alexis Rockman in 2004. The painting depicts a post-apocalyptic vision of the Brooklyn waterfront in New York City. The medium of the painting is oil and acrylic paint on wood. In person, the painting is massive and takes up an entire wall at the museum.
At first glance, the first detail one notices is the color scheme. The sunset depicted in the painting casts an orange-red filter over the entire landscape. The beams of colored light from the sunset streaks through the sky in the painting but also penetrates under the waterline located about 2/3 up on the canvas. It was also interesting how the colors became more dull when they were underwater.
This painting was interesting to me because it showed a common skyline of New York in a way that has never been seen before. The city is primarily underwater and the skeletons of the ruined buildings creates an eerie setting and really supports the idea of a post apocalyptic city. The shadows of the painting are also what makes it very interesting. The dark shadows add a lot of depth to the painting because they contrast the bright streaks of light in the top half of the painting. This contrast caused by the use of shadows and rays of light made the painting come alive and made the main subjects pop and stand out.
The amount of detail that the artist put into the subjects in this painting is also incredible especially because of the sheer size of the canvas. The painting is the size of an entire wall and the artist still had the dedication to put intense detail in something as small as the shellfish on an oil drum. This use of detail made this painting very interesting because it allowed the viewer to explore the many levels of this scene.
It was also very interesting seeing the contrast between man-made structures and nature in the painting. The main theme in this painting is showing how nature was interacting with man-made structures that had been destroyed. The way that animals and nature were implemented into this scene made it look like an aquarium land scape.
The use of subjects in the painting were also used to transition the viewer’s eyes to other parts of the canvas. An example is the use of the jellyfish in the lower third of the painting. The long tentacles of the jellyfish move the eyes of the viewer from the left side of the painting to the right.