An amazing "Light Artist" with a vision that nobody understood from the 1960's is back, continue reading please this is quite amazing and I am so looking forward to his finished piece.
When his void-like “infinity environment” opened last year at David Zwirner, few people expected Doug Wheeler, an influential but largely forgotten light artist from the 1960s, to reel in the crowds. After all, Wheeler had basically gone off the grid in the 1970s, when he threw up his hands at critics and art dealers who he felt didn’t understand his work. So when hundreds of people lined up every day of the show's two-month run to see the installation—a bright white room that seemed to have no walls or edges—the reception floored everyone involved.
For the gallery, the show was a twofold success: not only did they sell the ambitious work, they managed to sign the artist in the process. (Wheeler has achieved a sort of mythical status in the art world for turning down dealers as powerful as Leo Castelli over the years.) Now, the artist is currently at work on at least one new large-scale installation to show in the gallery's 20th Street space early next year.
“It won’t be an infinity environment, it’s a different architectural space, but hopefully it will have the same magical impact,” said Zwirner director Kristine Bell. “Actually, I’m pretty confident it will.”
Wheeler showed Bell and Zwirner a handful of architectural renderings for the upcoming exhibition, which will involve an immersive, LED and fluorescent-light installation in the main 64-by-67-foot gallery, as well as a version of his "Standing Sun" series for one of the private, skylit viewing rooms. Drawing on his experience as a pilot, Wheeler's project will most likely surround viewers with the temperatures and hues of natural light as it is experienced from the cockpit of a plane, with dawn ahead and dusk behind, the sun to the east and the west.
The dealers have weighed in on Wheeler's proposals, "but it's Doug's decision in the end to build whatever he wants," said Bell.
That's the kind of attitude that helped convince the artist to work with the gallery in the first place. In 2010, Bell included one of his light paintings in “Primary Atmospheres,” a group show of California Minimalism that also exhibited work by Wheeler’s better-known co-founders of the light and space movement, James Turrell and Robert Irwin. Unfortunately, the gallery installed the complicated neon piece incorrectly and, when Wheeler unexpectedly visited the gallery, he spotted it right away.
“It was the whole reason he left the art scene in the first place, because everyone installed his work improperly, and of course we had done it too," Bell said. “But I apologized profusely and I think he understood that our intentions were sound." The gallery also made him an offer he couldn't refuse: "carte blanche" to transform the 19th Street space into an artwork of his choosing, resulting in last year's runaway hit.
Today, the specifics of Wheeler's project are still in development, partly because he's still waiting for emerging forms of technology to catch up with his vision. Wheeler has been wanting to use plasma lights, for instance, but it could be another two years before the industry produces fixtures more suited for galleries than arenas. ("He saw a plasma light the size of a fingertip that produces light as strong as the sun," Bell noted.)
Wheeler has, however, upgraded the material of his installations' ovoid walls. In the past, he has built infinity environments out of wood and other disposable materials, which he'd then throw away after the exhibition. Since he signed with Zwirner, however, Wheeler has been working with a New Jersey-based fabricator to construct the shell-like walls out of bolted-together fiberglass. This means the installations can be disassembled, stored, and sold after viewing. "It's been a real breakthrough in the collecting of Doug's work," said Bell.
The upcoming project, set to open either the last week of January or the first week of February, is just the latest in what the gallery hopes will be a long line of exhibitions with the artist. "Doug is fertile with ideas, having been on hiatus for so long," Bell said. "We want to build all of them. It's just a matter of time."