Keith Sonnier

United States of America  born 1941

Keith Sonnier was born in Mamou, Louisiana, on 31 July 1941. He studied art at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, graduating in 1963. For the next year he travelled and worked in France, returning to complete his studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. He held his first solo exhibition in 1966 at Douglass College, New Brunswick. That year his work was also included in the exhibition Eccentric Abstraction at the Fischbach Gallery, New York. By this time Sonnier was making sculpture rather than paintings, and using materials such as fabric, latex rubber, glass and plastic.

In 1968 he had a solo exhibition at Galerie Rolf Ricke, Cologne, and another in 1970 at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. The Museum of Modern Art mounted a solo exhibition of his work in 1971, and Sonnier was represented in the touring exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form–Works–Concepts–Processes–Situations, from the Kunsthalle, Berne. Sonnier's use of high-tech materials such as fluorescent tubing and video in his work was firmly established by this time. A trip to India in 1971 gave Sonnier an interest in the materials used by other cultures, resulting in his bamboo pieces of the early 1980s. Some of these were exhibited at his solo exhibition at P.S.1., New York, in 1983. Since the 1990s the artist has also undertaken a number major of neon-light installations and public commissions both in the United States and in Europe. Sonnier lives and works in New York.

See more works by this artist in the NGA collection

Keith Sonnier Untitled 1969 © Keith Sonnier. ARS/Copyright Agency Purchased 1976 Learn more