Keith Sonnier, the sculptor and multimedia artist with work dating back to the 1960s, will be the subject of two exhibitions opening this summer on New York’s East End: “Keith Sonnier: Until Today,” a career survey at the Parrish Art Museum in the town of Water Mill, and an installation of Dis-Play II, a work from 1970, at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton. The Parrish show will open July 1 and remain on view through January of next year. The work at the Flavin Institute, a long-time haven for light-abetted sculpture overseen by the Dia Art Foundation, will open in July and continue for nine months.
“He is a remarkably influential artist, and now is the perfect time to bring his unique vision to light in new ways,” Parrish director Terrie Sultan told ARTnews of a retrospective that will expand beyond the neon sculpture for which Sonnier is most-known. “This exhibition will illuminate the many facets of Sonnier’s work, including some early works inspired by his travels to India and Bali, and others exploring sound as a sculptural medium, that have not been fully recognized.”
Work on view will range from 1967 to the present and will comprise early sculptural forms made with unorthodox materials (satin, rubber, felt) as well as intermedia work that enlists objects such as police scanners, radios, and antennae. Also included will be large-scale neon works presented in immersive installations.
The work to be presented by Dia, on the ground floor of a former church and firehouse that has played home to a permanent Dan Flavin arrangement upstairs since 1983, is an installation in different registers enlisting light along with foam rubber, fluorescent powder, and projected films. “Sonnier’s installations and three-dimensional environments of the 1970s strongly resonate with other works by artists in the collection, such as Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman and Robert Morris,” said Courtney J. Martin, Dia’s deputy director and chief curator. “Sonnier’s interest in and engagement with a variety of media demonstrates his aesthetic flexibility with the sculptural idiom as well his material relationship to peers in the collection who also used the same or similar materials.”
Presenting Sonnier’s work in the midst of Flavin’s fluorescent fantasia, Martin added, “will allow viewers to study and compare the two artists divergent explorations of light.”