Keith Sonnier constructs abstract light installations out of neon tubing and bathes spaces in the luminescence of colored light and known for his pioneering light sculptures. He works with performance, video and light installation and is considered a post-minimalist artist. He is 77 years old and the master of the medium: NEON and ARGON. And I mean the real neon, not the newtime shit LED-neon!

Neon is one of the six noble gas and the second-lightest noble gas, after Helium. Neon is colorless, odorless and inert at room temperature, it is therefore also not dangerous. The name «neon» originates from the Greek word «neos» meaning new and was discovered by the Scottish scientist Sir William Ramsay in 1898. Neon lighting was invented by the French chemist Georges Claude. And then the history of neon developed very quickly: by 1902 neon gas was being sold in industrial quantities and by 1912 neon signs started appearing as advertising signs. The movement of atoms and electrodes is what causes the light to be produced: as atoms hit each other and electrodes release energy in the form of a photon, light and heat are produced. The electrodes of each noble gas release a specific and characteristic wavelength of photons, which determines the colour the gas will shine in – neon glows red/orange. Each of the noble gasses glows in its own colour; for example helium becomes pink, krypton glows yellow/green, xenon shines in lavender blue and argon in light blue! (For more Informations click here)

«I love light in my work but I was never influenced by neon signage in itself, rather its effect on nature and architecture.»

By the late 1960s, Keith Sonnier along with his peers Bruce Nauman and Dan Flavin, had begun employing neon tube lights in their work. He was in the mid 1960s one of the first artists to incorporate light in sculpture. Sonnier was one of the pioneers of the «New Sculpture».

In this exhibition you can also see his video «Positive Negative» (watch it on vimeo). It was made 1970 with a 16mm film on tape. It was the first tape Sonnier shot in a television studio. Two large studio cameras and one-inch tape were used.

Sonnier has had more than 130 solo exhibitions, 360 groups exhibitions and has received more than 20 major commissions of his architectural neon installations in public spaces and his work can be found in dozens of privat and public collections around the world!

Now some of his work is on display in St.Gallen. From 6 april 2019 until 20 octobre 2019! Enjoy!

Where to find?

Museum of Art | Museumsstrasse 32 | | Instagram | Facebook