Parallax Gap – American Architecture Celebrated on Smithsonian Gallery Ceilings


Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Art is not confined to gallery walls. The concept of art displayed on ceilings stretches back to the Renaissance, perhaps most notably the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. The Renaissance tradition of Trompel’oeil ceilings went further, using an illusionary depth of perspective to depict a volume which doesn’t exist; be it a dome that was never built or an attic filled with angels.

Four hundred years later, New York and Los Angeles-based architecture firm FreelandBuck has elevated the concept with its upcoming installation ‘Parallax Gap’, which has been selected by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum as the winning entry in a competition entitled ‘ABOVE the Renwick’. From July 2017 to February 2018, the 2,500sqft canopy will be suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick’s largest room, the Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon, depicting an abstract catalog of American architectural icons.

Whilst most ceilings imply shelter by defining the limits of a room, Parallax Gap achieves the opposite, extending the spatial experience beyond its limits. The installation draws out a series of ceilings to project beyond the limits of the gallery, depicting a catalog of notable 19th-century American interiors which date from the same period as the Renwick’s construction. The suspended canopy extends FreelandBuck’s longstanding interest in applying three-dimensional drawings at building scale, using 21st-century technology and visual culture.  


Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

If traditionally, architectural drawing is used to describe building, in this case, drawing is built as a specific object in three-dimensional space, producing an artifact that is both abstract and tectonic, representational and tactile – David Freeland, FreelandBuck.


Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

The relatively low, horizontal expanse of the Grand Salon doesn’t allow for a singular perspective illusion, but rather requires a series of scenes arranged across the gallery. The nine ceilings of the installation are each drawn in perspective from several static viewpoints, outside of which the volume appears distorted, flattened, and out of scale. Hence, as the user moves through the gallery, drawings appear to resolve, collide and dissolve. 


Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Parallax Gap will be on view at the Renwick Gallery from July 1st, 2017 to February 11th, 2018.


Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

Courtesy of Kevin Kunstadt

News via: FreelandBuck.

Gabriel Dawe’s Installation Recreates the Light Spectrum Using Nothing But Thread

Along with eight other contemporary artists, Mexican artist Gabriel Dawe is exhibiting his installation called ‘Plexus A1’ within the WONDER display at the Renwick Gallery until July 10. WONDER is an exhibition showing nine very different projects within Renwick Gallery, all of which use large-scale and/or unexpected materials.

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