Keith Sonnier

Born 1941 in Louisiana
Lives and works in New York and Bridgehampton


BA, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1963
MFA, Douglass College Rutgers University, 1965


Keith Sonnier radically reinvented sculpture in the late 1960s. Employing unusual materials that had never before been used, Sonnier, along with his contemporaries, Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, Eva Hesse, Richard Serra, and Barry LeVa, called all previous conceptions of sculpture into question. Sonnier has experimented with materials as varied as latex, satin, bamboo, found objects, satellite transmitters, and video. In 1968, the artist began working with neon, which quickly became a defining element of his work. The linear quality of neon allows Sonnier to draw in space with light and color, while the diffuseness of the light enables his work to interact on various architectural planes. Sonnier’s architectural neon installations in public spaces have earned him wide acclaim in an international context. Summer 2018, the Parrish Art Museum will present Keith Sonnier: Until Today, the first major survey of the artist’s work in a U.S. museum. Recognized as one of America’s most influential artists, Sonnier was a trailblazer in the practice of incorporating light in sculpture—an innovation that formed the foundation 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. More recently he exhibited at MoMA PS1: Fourty Years; Whitechapel Gallery, London Keith Sonnier – Light Works.

Sonnier was the two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1975, 1981), and was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1974. He was also the 2013 Arts and Letters Award in Art presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Pace Gallery, New York
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Castelli, New York


Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
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.
Stedelijik Museum, Amsterdam
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York