Summer Of Sonnier

Keith Sonnier’s SHMOO - O.G.V., on display at The Parrish Art Museum.
Keith Sonnier’s SHMOO – O.G.V., on display at The Parrish Art Museum.



If you’re looking to see the works of Keith Sonnier this summer, look no further than the East End. Two coinciding solo exhibitions for the artist will open at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill and Tripoli Gallery in Southampton. Works will also be presented by the Dia Art Foundation at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton.

The Parrish presents “Keith Sonnier: Until Today,” an exhibition in the fields of conceptual, post-minimal, video, and performance art by the artist who radically reframed the function of sculpture.

The show features more than 30 works from 1967 to present. It includes the artist’s ever-evolving neon sculpture, as well as sound pieces, and a site-specific neon installation at the museum. The show is organized by guest curator Jeffrey Grove and Museum Director Terrie Sultan.

“The Parrish is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the full arc of Sonnier’s career to light,” said Sultan. “Not only is Sonnier one of the most innovative artists working in the United States today, his creativity is an inspiration to entirely new generations of artists.”

The exhibit takes museum visitors through decades of the artists work.

It starts with works that establish Sonnier’s process, exploring non-traditional materials and rejecting conventional sculptural norms. This includes the 1968 Rat Tail Exercise, created from simple string, latex, rubber, and flocking. During the same period, Sonnier began his lifelong exploration with neon. Neon Wrapping Neon V (1969) and Neon Wrapping Incandescent II (1970) are displayed.

By the 1980s, Sonnier embraced a new artistic direction inspired by journeys to India, Japan, and Brazil, creating several series of sculptures made from natural and indigenous materials. In the 1990s, he began to combine his signature neon with found objects.

The exhibition concludes with Mastodon, 2008, a large-scale neon construction and an immersive neon installation.

“Keith Sonnier has forged a singular sculptural language that defies easy categorization,” said Grove.

The show is on view July 1 through January 27.

Two works, shown concurrently with the Parrish exhibit, will be presented at the Dan Flavin Art Institute. View Dis-Play II (1970) is an environmental installation of foam rubber, fluorescent powder, strobe light, black light, neon, and glass. It brings together the artist’s ongoing interest in film, light, and experiential art environments.

Over at Tripoli Gallery is its second solo exhibition with Sonnier, “Tragedy and Comedy.” The show features 40 new drawings that are accompanied by related sculptures.

Coinciding with his opening at the Parrish, the show will be on view from June 29 through July 29. An opening reception will be held Saturday, June 30, from 4 to 6 PM.

“Tragedy and Comedy” illustrates the artist’s continued creative process during a period of personal health challenges. During this past year, Sonnier produced six new series of drawings, Pope Joan, Long Horn, Corrugated Twist, Floating Grid, Electrical Charge and lastly, inspiring the title of the exhibition, Tragedy and Comedy.

Always a prolific draftsman, drawing is essential to Sonnier’s creative process. His works on paper provide a look into the relationship between the two and three-dimensional aspects of his art.

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