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04.16.2014
Portfolio> Keith Sonnier
The postminimalist light artist has drawn much of his inspiration from architecture.
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2002.
Courtesy Keith Sonnier

When I think of how the body of my work has been affected by my interest in architecture, I realize that it has helped me formulate many of the working concepts I’ve developed through the years. My first interest in architecture was concerned with mass; the pyramids of the Yucatan and Guatemala, the pyramids and temples of Egypt, as well as simple early Neolithic cave sites. It was only when I began to make early sculptural works in non-sculptural materials (no bronze, marble, or steel), using instead simple, rudimentary materials, that I used architecture as a support. By this I mean support for the presentation of the sculpture (perhaps just leaning it against the wall) and building a body of work based on the floor-to-wall relationship in architecture, and to the scale of the human body.

   
Left to right: Neon Wrapping Incandescent, 1969; Lobbed Shape, 2013; Torso Trunk, 2013.
Courtesy Pace Gallery; Catarina Verde; Catarina Verde;
 

After completing the various early series’ of work, I began to have an interest in extruded materials (glass, steel, aluminum, and, of course, light) that resulted in a more classically oriented and multi-faceted approach to sculpture. The Ba-O-Ba Series, which utilized glass and neon, dealt with the post and lintel golden section. The Mirror Act Series evolved from early studio investigations into creating environments with light and reflective surfaces that were originally used as film sets. The performers moved around in a kind of fourth dimension; in what I called an infinity space. I was also interested in creating mass, or volume, with light, which is something that carries over into my architectural commissions.

Pace Gallery installation view.
Kerry Ryan McFate
 

The new body of work entitled Elysian Plain continues to explore the relationships of objects in space and how viewers become participants as their movements are reflected on the surface of the glass. This is a continuation of a form language that has evolved through many years of producing sculpture as well as architectural commissions.

Keith Sonnier

 

Ba-o-Ba V, 1970.
Courtesy Keith Sonnier