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Focus on the Indeterminate Lines

January - February 2024

Internationally renowned, Bernar Venet is the defining artist of this century. Credited as one of the key actors of conceptualism, Venet pushes conventions with his research, challenging the very definition of art. His sculptures and his graphic works demonstrate the virtuosity and ingenuity of this acclaimed artist.

This focus gathers a selection of Indeterminate lines to be also discovered at the Brafa Art Fair. These elegant and brutal spirals, are never static, but use the space to exist and impose a powerful physical presence on the viewer’s gaze.



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“I had the idea of realizing a different kind of relief that would be free of geometry’s constraints, therefore a free and sinuous line. I called it Lignes Indéterminée because it was not determine mathematically, whilst the previous lines were always accompanied by their measurements in degrees, thus of course, mathematically determined.”

Bernar Venet

It was at the end of a fruitful decade that Venet threw himself in a new ambition. In 1979, he created his first Lignes Indéterminée. Constrained by the white wall, Venet decided in 1983 to innovate once again his approach by surpassing the vertical plan. He experimented with new materials and started in the production of his first spiral-formed sculptures. He liked this new-found freedom and continued in the direction of this new vision, completely emancipated from formal limits.

[…] I thought that I could layer the line multiple times by making imperfect oval shapes. I felt at this moment that it would be possible to free myself from the wall and to move completely into the [three-dimensional] space. […] I bought five sufficiently flexible aluminum stems to twist them into spiral forms. I put them on the table and they stood on their own, in a sort of wobbly manner. And it was this aspect that satisfied me the most, since it gave them a certain dynamism in their movement. It was the solution to engage myself in sculpture. 

Bernar Venet

Double Ligne Indéterminée, 1992, Galerie Fleury

In the 1990s, Venet perfected his creation system. Through Double Ligne Indéterminée, we can find all the key attributs defined by the artist. More than undetermined, this sculpture is undeterminable. In constant tension between chance and control, gravity and lightness, cohesion and rupture, Venet offers a paradoxal work open to many perspectives.

The dynamism of the movement of the two lines in the space has a very singular gestural character that lets us imagine the impulsivity of the tracing of the lines. The artist gives free rein to the aesthetic randomness that exists between the spacing and direction of each loop. The viewer’s eye follows each spontaneously balanced curve until the unexpected interruption of the line. We imagine the continuity of each line so brutally cut by the artist. Venet manages to engage the viewer to visualize in the space the next succession of coils.

“At first I have a vision. Then, I do a little drawing with the question of proportions as the principal concern.”

Bernar Venet



Movement, volume, texture and patina dictate how the artist realizes his graphic works. His sculpture, imposing and powerful, transforms once again through a two-dimensional medium. Nevertheless, the work does not loose its volume nor its presence. Photographed under multiple angles, Venet reworks with charcoal or an oil stick, the image of the sculpture that the viewer can then rediscover. Once again, Venet transcends his materials to create novelty and the unexpected.

In Undetermined Line of 1986, Venet touches upon his beginnings with the use of modest materials, such as charcoal that references the coal and the tar that he transformed into art works. Through his graphic works, he defies perspective and perception to give a new interpretation to his sculptures.

The main fascination in Ligne Indéterminée executed in 1989 is its evident delicateness. Venet has the gift of transforming a hard and unforgiving material into a fine and supple composition. He often has the habit of working poor materials, such as tar or cardboard, to give life to fascinating artworks. Steel seemed a natural progression for Venet who puts it in the spotlight. He finds it “ideal to realize these sculptures of Lignes Indéterminées“.

The thickness of the steel in Ligne Indéterminée further demonstrates the work of twisting the material. He likes the difficulty of wielding these metal bars that add a dimension of power and monumentality to his sculptures, even the smallest ones.

“The technique that I employ has never been used, we have improvised it in an empiric way with the engineers. I am always in the improvisation, first of simple lines then of multiples, that adds complexity and power.”


Bernar Venet, during his interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist



Les Lignes Indéterminées of Venet in the urban space (a selection)

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

About the artist

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. His innovative thinking has established him as one of the world’s leading artists..

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