Keith Sonnier: Three Neons / Three Decades
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A pioneer in the use of industrial neon as an art medium beginning in the 1960s, Keith Sonnier (American, born 1941) has experimented with illuminated colored light for nearly five decades. These three major works—from the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s―belong to different series that highlight distinct concepts in Sonnier’s continually evolving style. The pivotal work Neon Wrapping Neon (1969) explores the three-dimensional space between the wall and the floor, with neon projecting across the gallery space and down to the floor. The flat, gestural forms of Expanded Sel IV (1979) derive from an early, abstract form of Chinese writing called Sel-calligraphy. Dyad III (Dot Dash) (1988) shows the artist’s interest in science and technology. The painted glass elements interconnected with neon tubes―interrupted by dashes―suggest circuitry and the text language of Morse code. Throughout his extensive exploration of neon, Sonnier has continued to reveal a wide range of interests.