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Artist Keith Sonnier's first solo exhibition at Tripoli Gallery opens in Southampton
Keith Sonnier, Bodo Junction II, 2005. Neon, paint, aluminum, 29 x 13 x 10 inches © Keith Sonnier/Artist Rights Society. Photograph by Caterina Verde, courtesy of Pace Gallery.

SOUTHAMPTON, NY.- Tripoli Gallery is presenting a solo exhibition of sculpture and drawings by Keith Sonnier. Keith Sonnier: Elliptical Transmissions features work spanning 1990 through 2013. It is a selection that maps an essential aspect of the artist’s work, that of transmission. Elliptical Transmissions is on view at 30a Jobs Lane from July 17 through August 17, 2014.

Elliptical Transmissions includes media work and objects that exemplify Sonnier’s career-long interest in not only transmission but the transmitted image itself. While changes in technology continue to take place, work from the Antenna Series (1990) through the more recent Chandelier Series (2006) and Helio B (2013) stand as examples of that evolution.

Sonnier’s pioneering media work of the 1970s, in which his artistic, scientific and philosophical explorations utilized film projections, broadcast signals, satellite systems, electrical impulses, and sound waves, are the groundwork for his continued conceptual focus on transmission as subject matter. Of Live TV, 1970, an interactive media work, Sonnier explained, “It was breaking a signal response and a person’s physicality actually did it. Once again it was something telling me that television cannot be one way. There has to be some sort of physical and emotional feedback between the two forces of sending and receiving.” (Interview with Bomb 3, 1982)

Elliptical Shift I and Elliptical Shift II, from 1993, contain the shape that Sonnier has referred to as astral in appearance. The ellipse also appears in the exterior shape of Space Slipper, 1992; the form could echo objects from traditional African shields to modern day surfboards, while its title relates as much to walking on the moon.

Keith Sonnier (b. 1941, Louisiana) radically reinvented sculpture in the late 1960s. After graduating with a B.A. from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette in 1963, he went on to receive an M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 1966. Employing previously unusual materials, Sonnier, along with his contemporaries, Eva Hesse, Barry Le Va, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, Richard Tuttle, and Jackie Winsor, called all previous conceptions of sculpture into question. Sonnier experimented with a wide range of materials and in 1968 began working with neon which quickly became a defining element of his work.

Sonnier has been the subject of more than 130 solo exhibitions and has participated in more than 360 group exhibitions throughout his career, including: Documenta 5, Kassel (1972); Keith Sonnier: Neon (1989) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Keith Sonnier: Porte Vue (1979) at Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Projects: Keith Sonnier (1971) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Venice Biennale (1972, 1982); the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1970 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Sculpture, Biennial Exhibitions (1973, 1977), and The New Sculpture 1965 – 1975: Between Geometry and Gesture (1990) which later traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Sonnier’s architectural neon installations in public spaces have earned him wide acclaim in an international context. More than 20 important public commissions by the artist have been realized since 1981. Included among these commissions is Lichtweg (or Lightway) at the New International Airport, Munich (1989-1992), a permanent installation that spans the 1,000 meter walkway of moving sidewalks, linking terminals and orienting passengers in a pathway of light. Additional installations include: Kansas City International Airport (2006); Munich Re Headquarters in Munich (2002); Pfarrexpositur St. Franziskus, Roman Catholic Church, Steyr, Austria (2002); Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington D.C. (1998); Bureau of the Census, Bowie, Maryland (1997); and the Miami International Airport (1996).

Sonnier’s work can be found in dozens of public and private collections worldwide, including the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany; Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz; Kunstverein St. Gallen, Switzerland; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Monchengladbach, Germany; Stedelijik Museum, Amsterdam, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1974, Sonnier was awarded first prize at the 9th International Biennial Exhibition of Prints at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. He was also two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1975, 1981), and was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1974.

Recent exhibitions include Keith Sonnier: Cannes Series and Selected Works, Hausler Contemporary, Zurich, 2012; When Attitude Becomes Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013, a recreation at the Fondazione Prada in Venice of the 1969 Kunsthalle Bern exhibition Live in Your Head. When Attitudes Become Form: Keith Sonnier 68–70, Mary Boone Gallery, New York and Keith Sonnier: Elysian Plain + Early Works, Pace Gallery, New York. In 2015, Sonnier will have an exhibition at MAMAC (Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art) in Nice, France.

His many accolades include the 2013 Arts and Letters Award in Art presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Keith Sonnier currently lives and works in New York City and Bridgehampton, New York.

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