Introduction

Keith Sonnier «Bound Saw Palm», Sagaponack Blatt Series, Detail, 2004 | Neon, wire and transformer | 167.6 x 101.6 x 22.9 cm | photo: © Caterina Verde, Courtesy of the Artist

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia
«Dialogue III: Light»

Exhibition: May 26 – July 10, 2020

In the exhibition «Dialogue III: Light», Häusler Contemporary presents Keith Sonnier and Michael Venezia, two important representatives of postmodernism. In their works, light shows its qualities as a «graphic» sculptural element just as well as a dynamic «painterly» means.

The third edition of our dialogical exhibition series on the subject of light is dedicated to two artists, both of whom worked in the New York art milieu from the late 1960s and developed approaches with which they made a significant contribution to the renewal of art: Keith Sonnier in the field of sculpture, Michael Venezia in painting. While the latter discovered the paint spray gun in order to leave behind the handwriting of the brush stroke, the former began to integrate neon tubes into his objects, which were previously mainly used in advertising. Both artists appropriated materials from industry and everyday life in a then revolutionary gesture in order to develop a new, artistic aesthetic that coins our understanding of art to this day.

Michael Venezia's works from that pioneering era thrive on the interaction with their ambient light. This becomes clear in view of the rare «bar paintings» and works on paper that we can present. The changing light reflections that appear on the spray markings and make the painting more dynamic are caused by the mixture of metallic pigments and acrylic or oil paint with which Venezia filled his spray paint cans. The artist achieves a similar effect today when he uses pearlescence in the newer «Block Paintings».

Keith Sonnier is represented with works that illustrate his diverse use of the neon tube. Sometimes it appears as a playful line like in the early work «Indian Sunset (blue)», 1968, sometimes rather committed to geometrical perpendicularity, like in «Plunge», 1989, or «Baghdad Relic», 2004. Ever since the beginnings though, the combination of the fluorescent tubes with materials such as cloth, metal, glass or found objects has been characteristic of Sonnier's œuvre. He thus evokes sensual, emotional and also figurative sculptural moments.

The encounter of the two positions in our exhibition accentuates the graphic elements in Sonnier's sculpture and the modeling quality of light in Venezia's painting. But above all, we see the innovative power of two artistic concepts, without which art would be different today.


Installation views

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Michael Venezia, «OW46», 2019, Detail | Acrylic pearlescent color on wood | 18 x 168.5 x 9 cm | photo: Peter Baracchi
Michael Venezia, «Untitled ATI», Detail, 1973 | Oil based metalized powders on canvas | 12 x 236.8 cm | photo: Mischa Schwerer

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Michael Venezia, «Untitled ATI», Detail, 1973 | Oil based metalized powders on canvas | 12 x 236.8 cm | photo: Francesca Cirilli
Keith Sonnier, «USA: War of the Worlds», Detail, 2004 | Neon, transformer and found objects | 121.9 x 121.9 x 71.1 cm | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier | Michael Venezia «Dialogue III: Light» | Installation view Häusler Contemporary Zürich, 2020 | photo: Peter Baracchi

Keith Sonnier «Drone C», Portal Variation Series, 2014/2020 | Neon, wire, transformer | Ed. 1/5 | 81 x 51 x 21 cm | photo: © Caterina Verde, Courtesy of the Artist
Keith Sonnier «Drone A», Portal Variation Series, 2014/2020, Detail | Neon, wire, transformer | Ed. 1/5 | 81 x 51 x 28 cm | photo: © Caterina Verde, Courtesy of the Artist

Keith Sonnier | Interview on harnessing the power of light | Exhibition «Collection» | 2014/2015 | Häusler Contemporary Lustenau


Michael Venezia | Exhibition «Brooklyn Variations» | 2014 | Häusler Contemporary München


Works | Keith Sonnier

Keith Sonnier, «Bound Saw Palm», Sagaponack Blatt Series, 2004 Neon, Draht und Trafo | 167.6 x 101.6 x 22.9 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Los La Butte», Tidewater Series, 1994 Neon und gefundene Objekte | 88.9 x 43.2 x 53.3 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Baghdad Relic», Sagaponack Blatt Series, 2004 Neon, Transformer, gefundene Objekte| 152.4 x 132.1 x 17.8 cm VERKAUFT
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Indian Summer (blue)», 1968/2018 Neon, Kabel, Trafo, Glühbirnen, Porzellanhalterungen | 143.51 x 199.39 x 20.32 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «USA: War of the Worlds», Sagaponack Blatt Series, 2004 Neon, gefundene Objekte, Trafo | 121.9 x 121.9 x 71.1 cm VERKAUFT
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Bundle Pack», Sagaponack Blatt Series, 2004 Neon, Umwandler und gefundene Objekte | 76.2 x 68.6 x 22.9 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Plunge», 1998 Neon, gefundene Objekte, Draht und Trafo | 96.5 x 68.6 x 22.9 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Drone A», Portal Variation Series, 2014/2020 Neon, Kabel, Transformer | 81 x 51 x 28 cm | Ed. 1/5 Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Drone B», Portal Variation Series, 2014/2020 Neon, Kabel, Transformer | 81 x 51 x 28 cm | Ed. 1/5 Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Keith Sonnier, «Drone C», Portal Variation Series, 2014/2020 Neon, Kabel, Transformer | 81 x 51 x 21 cm | Ed. 1/5 Verfuegbar
Inquiry

Works | Michael Venezia

Michael Venezia, «Untitled JS16», 1968 Acryl und Metallpulver auf Leinwand | 246 x 116.5 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia, «Untitled R78A», 1978 Metallpulver in Öl auf Leinwand | 6.9 x 304.9 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia «OW46», 2019 Perlglanz Acrylfarbe auf Holz | 18 x 168.5 x 9 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia, «Untitled ATI», 1973 Metallpulver in Öl auf Leinwand, 12 x 236.8 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia «Untitled MVNY #729», 1972 Metallpulver in Öl auf Papier | 51.6 x 88.2 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia «Untitled MVNY #1000», 1970 Metallpulver in Öl auf Papier | 43 x 56 cm VERKAUFT
Inquiry
Michael Venezia «#819», 1972 Acryl-Sprühfarbe auf Papier | 89 x 58 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry
Michael Venezia «Untitled MVNY #823», 1972 Metallpulver in Öl auf Papier | 66 x 51 cm Verfuegbar
Inquiry

Biography | Keith Sonnier

1941 born in Mamou, Louisiana, US
1959-63 studied at University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, US
1965-66 studied at Douglas College, Rutgers University
lives und works in New York, US Since 1968

Light has been the preferred artistic means of Keith Sonnier who was one of the trailblazers towards a «new scultpure» in the 1970s. Until then, the neon tube was mainly known from advertising and the everyday life. Keith Sonnier though combined it with glass, fabric, latex or metal, in order to emphasize the sensual and emotional qualities of theses materials. The artist also realized numerous projects of art in architecture, among which his work for Munich’s new airport (1989-92) is a particularly important.

Further information on the biography can be found here.

Biography | Michael Venezia

1935 born in Brooklyn, US
Studied art with Peter Busa at State University College of New York in Buffalo, US
lives and works in New York, US and Trevi, IT

Michael Venezia is widely considered to have played a major role in the renewal of painting in the 1960s. Back then, together with artist colleagues such as Dan Flavin, Robert Ryman, or Sol LeWitt, Venezia shared the opinion that routine and narcissism had become predominant in Abstract Expressionism, tendencies which they aimed to overcome and transcend. At the end of the 1960s Michael Venezia thus discovered the spray-paint gun as an adequate means to leave behind the gestural and handwritten touch of the brushstroke. Another important step was the reduction of the picture plane to a long narrow wooden bar. Until today, Venezia has remained faithful to this image format on which – by applying new techniques and combining several bars – he continues to achieve new and surprising painterly qualities.

Further information on the biography can be found here.