Artwork of the month August

Keith Sonnier, Dis-Play, 1969

Keith Sonnier

*1941 in Mamou, Louisiana

Dis-Play, 1969

Fluorescent tubes (neon, argon), transformer
approx. 150 × 180 × 80 cm

In a fragile, elegant formation, uorescent tubes emitting violet and orange light reach out from the wall onto the oor of the exhibition hall, circumscribing space. Instead of symmetrically completing the formation, a diagonal green uorescent tube sets a dynamic counterpart in the composition. The black cables also refuse to obey a strict geometric arrangement, adding a curved line following the natural bend to the vocabulary of the horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Together with the transformer, the cables also represent the functional context of electrical engineering of the disembodied, uorescent light, also enabling the powerfully coloured irradiation of the space-embracing work.

Dis-Play is the title which Keith Sonnier gave to this piece, adding the semantic component of divergent movement to the term "display" ("to spread out, unfurl, show", also "exhibition, screen", from Latin "displicare") by splitting off the pre x "dis" ("apart, counter") from the word "play". The artist thus manifests himself as an exponent of American New Sculpture, a position which arose as the historical successor and aesthetic counter-model of the Minimal Art of Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and others. A characteristic feature of their objects is their stringent structures reduced to elementary orders, often based upon the use of industrially pre-fabricated elements. While the minimalist objects refused to follow any kind of illusionist tradition, referring solely to themselves as nished works, post-minimalist sculpture increasingly drew attention to the physical production process, the artistic gesture.

Dis-Play from 1969 points the way to Sonnier's extensive oeuvre of light works with which he gained international fame.

Franziska Hilbe


<b>Keith Sonnier, Dis-Play, 1969</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.