Born in Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, France, 1941
Bernar Venet is a French conceptual artist whose work examines mathematical and scientific theories.
In 1958 Venet studied at the Villa Thiole, the municipal art school of Nice. The following year, he was employed as a stage designer for the Nice City Opera. While completing national military service, between 1961-63, Venet began his artistic career when he coated canvas with tar and exhibited a mere pile of coal as a sculpture. The French art scene’s leading figures – among them Arman, Cesar, Jacques Villegle – promptly encouraged this avant-garde artist to take it further.
After moving to New York in 1966, where he met the minimalist artists So LeWitt, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Dan Flavin, Venet started making wide-ranging conceptual works including painting, poetry, film and performance. One of his most notable performances was the sound piece, The Infrared Polarization of the Infrared Star in Signus, which he presented in 1968 at the Judson Church Theatre with physicians from Columbia.
In 1971 he was honored with his first retrospective at the New York Cultural Center and decided, for theoretical reasons, to cease his artistic activities. During this period, Venet returned to Paris to teach ‘Art and Art Theory’ at the Sorbonne. He participated in numerous conferences in Europe and exhibited past works. He resumed his artistic career in 1976 on his return to New York.
The year 1979 marked a turning point in Venet’s artistic production, when he began a series of wood reliefs Angles, Arcs, Diagonals, and created the first of his Indeterminate Lines.
Over his career his artistic practice has extended to film, music as well as furniture and stained glass. In 1988, Jean-Louis Martinoty asked Venet to stage his ballet Graduation (conceived in 1966) at the Paris Opéra. The artist is the author of the music, choreography, set designs and costumes.
Venet has been the recipient of many awards including a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris, and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration. On February 29 of this year, he was awarded the International Sculpture Center’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bernar Venet has been commissioned to produce numerous monumental sculptures that are permanently installed around the world, in cities such as Berlin, San Francisco, Nice, Tokyo, Beijing, Cologne and Paris. He was invited by Jacques Chirac, then the Mayor of Paris, to present twelve sculptures from his Indeterminate Line series on the Champ de Mars. This exhibition kicked off a world tour of Venet’s sculptures. In 2011 he exhibited seven monumental sculptures in the grounds of the Château de Versailles.
Venet’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe, The United States, South America and Asia in solo museums shows, as well as in major art events such as Kassel Documenta, and the Biennales of Paris, Venice and Sao Paulo. His works are currently in the collection of over seventy international museums including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Seoul Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C and The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Venet lives and works between New York and Le Muy in Southern France.