From August 21 through October 14, 2001, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a selection of videos from the 1970s by Keith Sonnier. This presentation in the Video Gallery of the Museum (Gallery 179) is followed by a lively series entitled Recent Video Made in Belgium, on view from October 14, 2001 through January 10, 2002.
Best known for the neon sculptures that brought him prominence in the late 1960s, Keith Sonnier also experimented early on with emerging video technologies. His distinctive approach to light, color, and transparency is reflected in a series of three 1970s videos. In TV In and Out, he joins images culled from television with others made in the studio to bring to life Robert Rauschenberg's silk-screened paintings and Andy Warhol's double-screened film projections. In Animation I Sonnier makes a single week's worth of 1972 news the alphabet for a tape in which the optical properties of video programming are explored. In Animation II he experiments with the imaginative processes of video animation and editing. Born in Louisiana in 1941, Sonnier settled in New York in 1966 after living for several years in Paris. He is widely celebrated for introducing color, flexibility, and sensuous forms into Minimalist art.
Recent Video Made in Belgium focuses attention on three artists active in Belgium's vibrant contemporary art world. Widely exhibited in Europe but not seen in the United States until now, the videos of Michel François, Robert Suermondt and Messieurs Delmotte demonstrate widely different approaches to the medium. François makes videos of extremely short duration, focusing attention on familiar objects and experiences, and using the camera's distorting mechanisms to discover poetry within the commonplace. In contrast to this close-up, personal focus Suermondt creates a panoramic portrait of the architecture and urban setting of São Paolo, Brazil, using long takes and a rhythmic style, to study the city from the perspective of plane, boat, street and car. Messieurs Delmotte works within the tradition of video performance. His dandy-like character undertakes eccentric, nonsensical actions, whose strangeness, humor and mystery evoke the tradition of Belgian Surrealism.