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Bernar Venet (France, 1941) is one of the essential figures of the current art scene, recognised since the early 1960s as one of the pioneers of conceptual art. His multifaceted work, in fields as varied as performance, painting, monumental sculpture and theoretical writing, is an essential contribution to contemporary creation. Together with the series of Arcs, Les Lignes indéterminées established his status as an essential and world-renowned artist.

Turning his back on tradition and the French art scene, Venet produced his first works at the very beginning of the 1960s: tar on cardboard, the Déchets (1961) and the Tas de charbon (1963), which prefigured the beginnings of conceptual art, by refusing composition, interpretation, and the use of traditional pictorial matter. In 1966, the artist took advantage of Arman’s invitation to join him in New York to settle in the United States. Few artists had attempted this adventure at the time, and his American years were determining, because he discovered an art that corresponded to his taste for a “cold, difficult, sober abstraction”. As soon as he arrived, he took an interest in science, and met and exhibited alongside the advocates of minimal art, Donald Judd, Carl André, Frank Stella and Dan Flavin.

After a short artistic pause (1971-1976), Venet, in rupture with conceptual art, whose limits he was quick to perceive, developed a new dynamic, that of the line, which became, from the end of this decade, the central element of his work. Using this elementary visual vocabulary drawn from mathematics, Venet developed a combinatorial art that explores the dialectics of order and chaos. The result is a body of work with real aesthetic qualities, which remains autonomous in relation to the space it occupies, and which imposes a powerful physical presence on the viewer.

In the field of sculpture, Venet chose steel, a material that was sober, rigid, difficult to work with, and engaged in a genuine test of strength. The models bear witness to the artist’s physical commitment to the creative process, seeking to impose his domination on the metal by cutting the material with a torch to better twist, bend, and coil it. On paper, the artist’s favourite medium from the outset for the freedom and ease of action it offers, Venet uses oil sticks, charcoal and acrylic, all dark and sober materials that have become his signature, and which allow him to explore the many possible combinations of straight, curved, broken and random lines.

From the 1980s, his monumental sculptures began to conquer urban spaces around the world, from the Palace of Versailles (2011), to the A4 motorway in Belgium, to the Gibbs Farm Makarau in New Zealand. This minimalist gigantism became his signature and paved the way for international recognition. Bernar Venet’s works are present in a hundred museums around the world and more than thirty international cities such as London, Geneva, Paris, Nice and Seoul permanently display the sculptures of this tremendous French artist in their public spaces.


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“The field of possibilities is infinitely greater than everything that has been conceived up until now, we must therefore stay alert so as not to miss out on a possible discovery.”

Bernar Venet

Bernar Venet in front of Effondrement 200 tonnes, at the Muy. Photo © Didier Baverel ©Bernar Venet Studio

“My sculpture has always had a close relationship to mathematics. Be it the geometry of the Arcs, Angles, or Lignes obliques, on which I engraved their mathematical identity [...] [...] On the other hand, my more complex pieces such as the Combinaisons aléatoires de lignes indéterminées or Accidents can be related to more recent developments in mathematics, such as chaos theory, catastrophe theory, or the science of complexity.”

Bernar Venet

Artworks

Bernar Venet

Two indeterminate lines, 1995
Rolled steel with black patina
37,5 x 50 x 50 cm | 14 3/4 x 19 5/8 x 19 5/8 in.

Bernar Venet, Combinaison aléatoire de lignes indéterminées

1991

Bernar Venet, 83,5° Arc x 9

2007

Bernar Venet, Undetermined Line

1991

Bernar Venet, Goudron

1961

Exhibitions

Art Fairs

Publications

News

Benar Venet – Artist of the Year 2022

May 2022

Benar Venet receives the American Friends of Museums in Israel’s Artist of the Year 2022 award.

Benar Venet (France, 1941) is one of the essential figures of conceptual art. His works in fields as varied as performance, painting, monumental sculpture, and theoretical writing. Together with the series of Arcs, Les Lignes indéterminées established his status as an essential and world-renowned artist. To date, he is the most internationally exhibited French artist with […]

Benar Venet – Artist of the Year 2022

Bernar Venet, 1961-2021: 60 Years of Performance, Painting and Sculpture

January 20, 2022 - May 30, 2022

Kunsthalle Berlin, Aéroport de Tempelhof, Allemagne

In the most comprehensive retrospective of Bernar Venet’s work to date, more than 150 works show all facets of his 60-year oeuvre. Bernar Venet Retrospective, 60 Years of Sculpture, Painting & Performance, 1961—2021. is the first in a series of exhibitions to unfold over the next two years in the Kunsthalle Berlin across the spectacular hangars […]

Bernar Venet, 1961-2021: 60 Years of Performance, Painting and Sculpture

The Hypothesis of Gravity

July 11, 2021 - January 10, 2022

Musée du Louvre-Lens

The Hypothesis of Gravity is a monographic exhibition devoted to the contemporary artist Bernar Venet. This monumental work fills the 1,000 square metres of the luminous Glass Pavilion, reconfiguring the museum’s internal and external landscape. Inside the Glass Pavilion are around one hundred corten steel beams in the form of Arches, Straight Lines, and Angles. […]

The Hypothesis of Gravity

Black suns

June 10, 2020 - January 25, 2021

Musée du Louvre-Lens

This sensory, poetic exhibition offers a fresh perspective on masterpieces of the History of art. Almost 75 years after the legendary exhibition ‘Black is a Colour’, it provides an engrossing exploration of this fascinating colour, which has been endowed with a multitude of symbolic meanings in Western art, from antiquity to the present day. A […]

Black suns

BERNAR VENET. THE CONCEPTUAL YEARS 1966-1976

October 12, 2018 - March 24, 2019

MAMAC Nice

In 1966, the young artist Bernar Venet left Nice and moved to New York where he started an artistic revolution introducing mathematics, astrophysics and later many other fields of science and other disciplines into the art realm. In 1970, he forged a reputation as one of the leading lights of conceptual art, a nascent movement […]

BERNAR VENET. THE CONCEPTUAL YEARS 1966-1976

Bernar Venet, retrospective 2019-1959

September 21, 2018 - January 6, 2019

Mac Lyon

This exhibition presents a remarkable and previously unseen ensemble of 170 artworks, including Venet’s early performances, drawings, diagrams, and paintings, as well as the photographs, sound works, films and sculptures that retrace 60 years of creation. This is the most ambitious retrospective ever devoted to the artist. It aims to examine the different stages that led […]

Bernar Venet, retrospective 2019-1959

Venet Versailles

June 2011

Bernard Marcadé - Brian O'Doherty

En 1961, lors de son service militaire à Tarascon, Bernar Venet réalise une performance où on le voit couché au milieu de détritus. C’est sa première ouvre revendiquée. Plus de 50 ans après cette action, l’artiste occupe la place d’armes et les jardins du château de Versailles, à l’aide de ses ” Arcs “, de […]

Venet Versailles

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