Keith Sonnier (1941 – 2020) radically reinvented sculpture in the late 1960s. Employing unusual materials that had never before been used, Sonnier called all previous conceptions of sculpture into question. In 1968, he began working with neon, which quickly became a defining element of his work.
Keith Sonnier (b. 1941) emerged in the 1960s among a generation of artists who inherited the lessons of Minimalism and began using less rigid forms in their work. Sonnier earned his MFA from Rutgers University in 1966, studying with Robert Morris and Robert Watts. When he began exhibiting in New York in the mid-1960s, he was grouped with New York Postminimalist and process artists. Among the first artists to employ neon as a medium, Sonnier’s investigations of light, color, space, structure and materials have sustained his practice since the 1960s.
Sonnier has been the subject of over 150 solo artist exhibitions including a retrospective held at the Alexandria Museum of Art, Louisiana (1987). Featured in over 360 group exhibitions, Sonnier’s work has been included in the Venice Biennale (1982,1972), the Whitney Biennial (1977, 1973); Biennale de Paris (1975); and International Biennial Exhibition of Prints, Tokyo (1974). Sonnier’s work is held in over fifty public collections throughout the United States and abroad.
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