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The Past And Present Of Artist Keith Sonnier To Be Explored In The Hamptons This Summer

Olivia Rutigliano

Keith Sonnier's Pope Joan 23, 2017, marker on graph paper.

Keith Sonnier, a pioneer of conceptual, post-minimal, video, and performance art, will be featured in two solo exhibitions, as well as an environmental installation, in the Hamptons this summer.

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill will present Keith Sonnier: Until Today, while Tripoli Gallery in Southampton will exhibit Sonnier's Tragedy and Comedy.

Organized for the Parrish Art Museum by guest curator Jeffrey Grove and Museum Director Terrie Sultan, Keith Sonnier: Until Today, explores over 30 works that follow the artist's unique trajectory from 1967 to the present. It will mark Sonnier's first solo exhibition in 35 years in an American museum.

"The Parrish is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the full arc of Sonnier's career to light," Sultan noted. "Not only is Sonnier one of the most innovative artists working in the United States today, his creativity is an inspiration to entirely new generations of artists."

The exhibition will travel to the New Orleans Museum of Art following the Parrish presentation.

"Keith Sonnier has forged a singular sculptural language that defies easy categorization," said Grove. "With a sensitive and idiosyncratic understanding of materiality and physicality, he has consistently produced work that is at once surprising in its originality and generous in spirit."

Tragedy and Comedy focuses on the present, highlighting 40 new drawings, which will be accompanied by several related sculptures. Sonnier's works on paper provide a look into his process as well as the relationship between the two and three dimensional aspects of his work. His approach to line and shape varies from cattle like figures of Long Horn to energetic lines in the Corrugated Twist series.

Electrical Charge C, Floating Grid B, Floating Grid H and Triple Loop Exercise B are among the sculptures that will be on view. The interconnection of line and color in many of his drawings are reflecting in the design of his light sculptures. The neon tubes bend and intertwine to explore a further view into the artist's process.

"I have found that it is often during the most challenging times of our lives, outside of any comfort system we may have developed to protect ourselves, is where our survival instinct kicks in and directs us to gain energy and direction from our personal reservoir of existence," Tripoli Patterson, owner of Tripoli Gallery, said." During a recent time of illness which kept Keith Sonnier physically away from his studio, his visions stayed clear and his dedication turned a difficult time into a very prolific body of works on paper, giving us an insight into the wide range of three dimensional works and thought he has created and conversations he has begun."

A Louisiana native and current Bridgehampton resident, Keith Sonnier radically reinvented the sculpture in the late sixties. After exploring a wide range of materials, neon began a define element of his work. Sonnier's architectural neon installations in public spaces have earned him international accolades. More than 20 important public commissions by the artist have been realized since 1981. A two time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, he has also received the Arts and Letters Award in Art, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and was awarded first prize at the Ninth International Biennial Exhibition of Prints at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

This year Sonnier has two long-term exhibitions: Keith Sonnier: Until Today, on view at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill from July 1, 2018 to January 27, 2019, and an installation, Dis Play II, opening July 1, 2018 though May 26, 2019 at The Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton. Tragedy and Comedy is Sonnier's second solo exhibition with Tripoli Gallery following Elliptical Transmissions in 2014. It will remain on view through July 29.

Dis-Play II (1970) is an environmental installation that encompasses foam rubber, fluorescent powder, strobe light, black light, neon, plywood, and glass. Film and Videos 1968-1977, a selection reflecting Sonnier's decade-long examination of sound and media work, will be presented in coordination.

An opening reception for Tragedy and Comedy will take place on Saturday, June 30 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Tripoli Gallery is located at 30A Jobs Lane in Southampton, The Dan Flavin Art Institute is located at 23 Corwith Avenue in Bridgehampton, and the Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, visit www.tripoligallery.com or parrishart.org or www.diaart.org.

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