By Allison Berg | July 1, 2018 | Culture
Iconic New York- and Bridgehampton-based artist Keith Sonnier is illuminating the Hamptons with his conceptual, post-minimal neon sculpture, sound pieces and site-specific installations at the Parrish aRt Mseum and Dia's Dan Flavin Art Institute.
During his five-decade career, Keith Sonnier has redefined sculpture’s parameters. “I am interested in the architectural principles of the floor, wall and ceiling. [Carl] Andre dealt with eliminating the base, [Richard] Serra dealt with the pressure of one element against another, and [Robert] Smithson dealt with how the material actually exists in nature. I dealt with the architectural housing of the work,” says Sonnier, a member of a generation that challenged art’s definition and the processes of making it.
Until Today is Sonnier’s first solo exhibition in an American museum in 35 years. The comprehensive Parrish survey includes 1960s explorations of tactile materials and gestural neon; 1970s sound, video and experimental film; 1980s natural sculptures inspired by time in India, Japan and Brazil; 1990s signature neon with found objects; and large-scale, immersive neon installations. Says Parrish Director Terrie Sultan, “Keith is one of the most influential artists of his generation, and it’s time for a new look at his career. We are fortunate to know internationally renowned artists who live and work right here."
Simultaneously, DFAI is presenting Dis-Play II, an environmental installation shown with Film and Videos 1968-1977, a selection of Sonnier’s film and video works reflecting his decade-long exploration of these genres. “It’s easiest to think about these things generationally,” explains Dia’s deputy director and chief curator, Courtney J. Martin. “When you look across Keith’s peer group—Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Lynda Benglis—they have the same kind of pop cultural references, are reading the same books and looking at the same historic period. They all realized their ideas can be something other than just oil and acrylic paint, bronze or stone.”
As a longtime Bridgehampton resident, Sonnier is being showcased in the perfect venue. “The Hamptons brought my Southern childhood back to me,” he says. “The very first look was a rebirth of nature, the ocean and light.”
July 1–Jan. 29, 2019, Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, 631.283.2118, parrishart.org
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF KEITH SONNIER STUDIO, © 2018 CATERINA VERDE, © 2018 KEITH SONNIER STUDIO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK