New York

Keith Sonnier, Ba-O-Ba Nice II, 1977/2018, neon, glass, paint, wire, transformer, 6' 11 1⁄2“ × 14' 8” × 11". From the series “Ba-O-Ba,” 1969–.

Keith Sonnier, Ba-O-Ba Nice II, 1977/2018, neon, glass, paint, wire, transformer, 6' 11 1⁄2“ × 14' 8” × 11". From the series “Ba-O-Ba,” 1969–.

Keith Sonnier

Kasmin | 509 W 27th Street

Red, yellow, and blue neon tubes were illuminated. Wires hung loosely and were expressively slack. A flat black plane, rectangular or square, was often thrown into the mix. Everything was finessed into the gallery’s smooth, white walls like a bas relief. The works’ finitude and self-containment were exacting, perfect: Such is the formula for Keith Sonnier’s technological constructions, which were arranged like altarpieces within Kasmin’s West Twenty-Seventh Street space in Manhattan’s Chelsea. The compositions have a peculiarly sacramental character, all the more so because their radiant colors cast an auratic spell. Sonnier created a church of pure art—inside of which audiences paid fealty to its hypnotic concoctions. 

The sculptures read as an epitomizing homage to abstraction: The square alludes to Malevich, for instance, and the slender wires are memento mori of gesturalism—core opposites,

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