|David Zwirner Gallery
519 West 19th Street, New York
|January 24—March 21, 2020|
David Zwirner presents a new immersive light installation by American artist Doug Wheeler (b. 1939) at the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street location in New York.
Over the past five decades, Wheeler has become known for his innovative constructions and installations that engage with the perception and experience of light, space, and sound. Although Wheeler began his career as a painter, his wall-mounted artworks soon began incorporating light as a medium and quickly gave way to an art-historical breakthrough: the construction of an absolute light environment, created in his Venice Beach studio in 1967. On view at the gallery will be an installation by the artist that further expands on his earliest investigations of the possibilities of luminous space.
In 1969, Wheeler was invited to realize an environmental installation at the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam, using neon light embedded inside a viewing aperture that encompassed the entire surface area of the gallery wall within an enclosed, entirely white room. He stretched translucent nylon scrim overhead, creating a virtual ceiling that captured and reflected light and appeared to float above the room. The resultant environment produced the effect of light as a tactile and dense mass that enveloped the viewer while articulating a luminous volume, or plane, across the expanse of a wall. The work was at once inviting, immersive, and expansive. As artist Daniel Buren has noted upon recalling his impressions of Wheeler’s installation at the Stedelijk, “One was no longer seeing a work: one was experiencing a spatial event. One was entering into light.”1
Subsequent iterations of this type of installation by the artist have explored distinct atmospheric and perceptual effects and have been presented at institutions that include the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1969); Ace Gallery, Los Angeles (1970); and, more recently, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2004); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2008–2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2011–2012); and 49 Nord 6 Est – FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France (2012), where the work on view in this exhibition at David Zwirner was first presented.
49 Nord 6 Est 68 Ven 12 FL(2011–2012) culminates the evolution of this body of work and exemplifies Wheeler’s evolving and refined employment of light, technology, and architecture to transform the gallery and to engage the viewers’ phenomenological perception of pure light and space.
This is Wheeler’s fourth solo exhibition at David Zwirner and coincides with the release of the first major monograph devoted to his work. The most comprehensive overview of the artist’s career to date, this publication includes new scholarship by art historian Germano Celant and features extensive illustrations of Wheeler’s most significant works from the early 1960s to the present, as well as never before published images, drawings, and other archival material.