Doug Wheeler at David Zwirner

Located at the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street location in New York from January 24th until March 21st 2020, David Zwirner presents the all-new and forever-unique light installation by the innovative American artist, Doug Wheeler.

The minimalistic yet complex installation attempts to visualize and recreate the experience of flying. The views are intended to appear as a clear blue sky, reflecting an infinite horizon.

Marking Doug wheeler’s 4th solo exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery, the installation also overlaps with the publishing of the first extensive monograph based on Wheeler’s work by art historian Germano Celant.

The publication offers comprehensive illustrations of some of Wheeler’s most outstanding artworks. These include the entire range from the early 1960’s to his present-day art. Also included are various images, paintings and other historical material that was never published previously.

Artist Doug Wheeler

Taking off as a painter in the early 1960’s, Doug Wheeler’s art grew to represent his experiments with how we experience and perceive light, space, and sound. His endless pursuit to explore the possibilities of light and space has given birth to his pioneering art installations, which ought to be understood as experiences.

Having grown up in Arizona, Wheeler drew the inspiration for his current installation at David Zwirner from his childhood when his father flew planes.

Now the California Institute of the Arts, Wheeler began his career as a painter in the early 1960’s from the Chouinard Art Insitute. Primarily obsessed with allowing human beings to experience light and space in ways they usually wouldn’t, his work at the time was profoundly influential for the wave of Los Angeles artists that were beginning to work with light and space.

As such, Doug Wheeler is accredited as one of the founders of the Light and Space Movement.

Similar to his new painter counterparts at the time, in his own words, he started off making “some horrible stuff” for some time. It was exactly through this initial work though, that his work of light emerged. In a few of his earliest paintings, viewers would find big white canvases with shapes in the corners that looked like bullets. Viewing his own paintings, Wheeler realized the often overlooked significance of “the space between things.”

Talking about his work over the decades, Doug Wheeler is meticulously disciplined and systematic, specifically in attempting to emphasize what his work is not.

His Installations

In the later years of the 1960s, works representing ‘light encasements’ were created, exhibited at David Zwirner. The minimalistic installation presented squares made of plastic, with neon lights beaming from behind along the edges of the squares. The essence of his artwork is made real through the specific environments in which his art is represented – in this case, white rooms with arched corners.

His installation at the gallery represents the intimate relationship with space and light and provides an expansive and immersive experience to viewers, enabling them to perceive the two through Doug Wheeler’s inventive mind.

Instead of aiming to replicate the obvious presence of light and space, Wheeler attempts to create a sense of absence thereof, making his art exceptionally challenging to present and for some, even to perceive. Early on, museums and artists couldn’t perceive his installations and grand ideas the way he had intended, and this only furthered Doug Wheeler’s determination and stubbornness to create and represent art exactly how he wanted.

Another one of his intriguing installations, the infinity room, attempted to visualize light and space as it appears throughout a 24-hour period. Over half an hour-long, the representation transitioned from daylight as viewed at dawn, to full daylight at noon, and eventually transpired into the light experienced around dusk.

Doug Wheeler’s installations attempt to reflect and experience light and space in ways that don’t provide, neither do they require, an end-explanation to the viewer. The significance lies in experiencing light and space in isolation from connections to anything except the self at that moment.

Other Work from the Artist

Following are some prominent museum locations around the world where you can also find exhibitions of Doug Wheeler’s work:

  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
  • Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
  • Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
  • the Panza Collection, Mendrisio, Switzerland
  • Pinault Collection, Paris
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Doug Wheeler currently lives and works in Santa Fe and Los Angeles.

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