At Art Basel Miami 2015 Castelli Gallery will exhibit a selection of iconic sculptural works from the 1960s by American artist Keith Sonnier (Mamou, Louisiana, 1941). What makes the work of this selection so compelling is that when it was first exhibited in the 1960s it broke all rules of traditional sculpture: the use of the pedestal as a support for the sculpture was removed, and walls took the support function; and traditional media such as bronze and marble were abandoned and replaced with ephemeral materials such as cloth and latex.
The artworks that will be exhibited are: Walk In, 1967; Lead Belt File I, 1968; Rat-Tail Lesson, 1968; In Between II, 1968; Flocked Wall, 1969; and Untitled, 1969. Also included are two small works: Pink Fold, 1968, and Silver Tuck, 1968. (Please see attached images and detailed descriptions.)
Flocked Wall, Rat-Tail Lesson, and Untitled are realized with latex, which the artist applies directly on the wall and then covers with flock, while strings create an improbable geometry. The latex looks like skin, which is peeling off from the wall as if this were a body.
In Between II bridges the gap between the works described above and other works by Mr. Sonnier, combining latex applied to the wall with industrial materials like light bulbs, glass, and electrical cables. The deliberate temporary nature of the work (which requires a new sheet of glass with any new installation) lends an air of performance to its exhibition. In Mr. Sonnier’s works from the 1960s not only are the materials themselves ephemeral but the work exists differently each time it is installed.
All of the works employ materials with a skin-like quality, which Sonnier accentuates by allowing them to retain organic shapes and movement. Walk In invites the viewer to physically step into an improbable space created by walls made with cheesecloth.
Speaking about his interest in ephemeral materials, Sonnier said, “I was always attracted to unconventional and psychologically loaded materials; what interests me is how a material relates to the senses.” Of the temporary qualities of the work, Sonnier says, “The possibility of loss is inherent in everything.”
Keith Sonnier is one of the central figures of the Post-Minimal movement that emerged in New York City in the late Sixties. Sonnier's unconventional sculptures were first exhibited by Castelli Gallery in 1968 in the landmark inaugural exhibition at Castelli Warehouse, curated by Robert Morris and titled “9 at Leo Castelli.” They created great interest in the art community, and Artforum dedicated several critical articles to the work. Mr. Sonnier has been represented by Castelli Gallery since 1970.