Dezeen Magazine

Doug Wheeler exhibit

Doug Wheeler uses light to turn New York gallery into sky-like installation

This installation by American artist Doug Wheeler at Manhattan's David Zwirner gallery is intended to recreate the feeling of flying.

Wheeler designed the project for the gallery to resemble a blue sky on "clear day" and an infinite horizon. He said the idea was influenced by his time flying planes with his dad as a kid in Arizona.

Doug Wheeler exhibit

"I felt this freedom, you know, that the land is one thing the sky is another thing," he said.

To create this, Wheeler painted the gallery space white on its floors, ceiling and walls. White latex, epoxy paint, nylon scrim, acrylic diffusers and white UV neon lights are also employed as part of the effect.

Doug Wheeler exhibit

He then tucked wide-spectrum fluorescent tubes behind the drywall of the rear wall. The result is a glowing white rectangular form that stands out against a blue backdrop.

Visitors to the exhibit at David Zwirner in New York's Chelsea neighbourhood are invited to stand, sit and reflect in the space, which is left completely empty.

The exhibition – the fourth Wheeler has created for the gallery – coincides with the release of the first major monograph on Wheeler published by David Zwirner.

"When you're flying, and you're up there by yourself, and you're dealing with this incredible vault all around you," he said in the book. "I would think, 'I want to bring that into an experience that other people [can] have.'"

Doug Wheeler exhibit

Born in Arizona in 1939, Wheeler has been creating light designs and geometric drawings for the past 60 years.

He is credited as a pioneer of the Light and Space movement whose minimalist creations flourished in the 1960s and 70s in California.

Doug Wheeler exhibit

Wheeler has created a number of illusory installations with light. In 2017, he transformed a gallery at the Guggenheim museum in New York into an all-white room to evoke the sensation of vast infinite space.

He also created the illusion of infinite white space inside a Venetian palazzo in Italy in 2014.

Doug Wheeler's exhibit is on view from 24 January to 21 March 2020 at 519 West 19th Street, New York.