Artwork of the month May

Keith Sonnier, Lit Square – right side variation (2-M-N), 1969/2015, Hilti Art Foundation

Keith Sonnier

* 1899 in Rosario de Santa Fé, Argentina, † 1968 in Comabbio / Varese, Italy

Lit Square – right side variation (2-M-N), 1969/2015

Glass, neon, wiring and transformer
200 × 200 × 18 cm

Hilti Art Foundation

When Keith Sonnier arrived in New York in 1967, he found himself in the midst of a vibrant young, interdisciplinary art scene with artists not only charting new territory in such varied media as performance, dance, video and installations but also using the materials of everyday life in their work. Sonnier was soon drawn into the avant-garde of Soho. He too began experimenting with a wide range of objects and materials, such as radio transmitters, wire mesh, plate glass, mirrors, latex, satin, light bulbs and neon.

Lit Square, which exists in three variations, goes back to a drawing of 1969 and was executed in 2015 in accordance with Sonnier's instructions. The artist rst introduced neon into his work at the end of the 1960s, studying its technical, artistic and philosophical potential with great intensity.

Lit Square consists of a square piece of plate glass measuring 200 × 200 cm. It is propped against the wall at a distance of 18 cm, creating a new, transparent and open space between the oor and the wall. The glass plate is divided into two symmetrical parts. The right half is delimited by a thin neon tube that frames the shape of the glass while the black wiring in the left half curves gracefully down to the transformer placed in front of the glass plate. The rigid, luminous shape of the neon to the right is juxtaposed with the exibility of the cable to the left. The right side references the art of Piet Mondrian, with which Sonnier was well acquainted, while one might interpret the left side as an ironic commentary on action painting in 1950s New York.

Lit Square radiates a soft, orange to salmon coloured light. The light of the neon tubing is perceived as condensed and tangible colour. It reaches into the room, blends with it and becomes an immaterial, atmospheric phenomenon. "Light," Keith Sonnier says, "can be presented not only as energy but also as matter." A distinctively palpable and sensual poetry is inherent in the arti cial character of this form of lighting.

Angela Schneider

<b>Keith Sonnier, Lit Square – right side variation (2-M-N), 1969/2015, Hilti Art Foundation</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.