(American, b. July 31, 1941) is a Conceptual artist and sculptor who was an influential part of the Process Art Movement. Born in Mamou, LA, he sometimes uses video and Performance Art in his pieces. In the 1960s, he was one of the first artists to incorporate light into his sculptures. Sonnier has traveled to Italy, France, and England, studying with André Lhote
(French, 1885–1962) at the Academy in Paris.
Securing an MFA from Rutgers University in 1964, Sonnier joined the Rutgers Group to study under Robert Morris
(American, b.1931). This informal group of artists used found materials in a Minimalist form of expression. Sonnier''s first exhibition was in New Brunswick at Douglass College in 1966, and he soon began making wall reliefs and sculptures from soft materials, such as cheesecloth and foam rubber. Other materials the artist used include neon and fluorescent lighting, aluminum, copper, and glass. One of Sonnier''s more spectacular installations, Lightway
, decorates the terminals at the Munich airport in Germany. His other works have been found at the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands (1970), the Portland Center for the Visual Arts (1981), and MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, NY (1983).
Sonnier''s earlier works were used in video and film, such as his Live Video
and Channel Mix
series. Others were a series of lights, including Mirror Act
and Spotted Circle
, featuring theatrical spotlights shimmering through glass prisms. He also has many modern series under his belt, including the Modern Relic Series
and the Oldowan Series
. Long Stone
is featured in the collection and is on display at Häusler Contemporary in Munich. Sonnier is featured in solo exhibits at many galleries such as the Marlborough in New York, The Institute for Art & Urban Resources, and The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. In 1975, Sonnier collaborated with Leo Castelli
(American, 1907–1999) and Doug Christmas to produce Air to Air
at the Castelli''s gallery in New York. Sonnier has also created material for books, catalogs, and periodicals. He currently resides in New York.