‘Certainly I am rooted in the tradition of abstract art, or to be more exact, concrete art - an art form which resists any kind of subordination to the natural, the unessential, the similar and the transcendendent in order to allow the artwork to attain its unique and distinctive quality. Frank Stella's dictum “what you see is what you see“ or Donald Judd's “specific objects“ also form part of this tradition. Even today I draw upon this rounded, basic concept in my artistic work. My objective is to limit the interpretational possibilities to ensure that my work is perceived in its actual physical reality, or to quote the famous phrase, that it is perceived as a “real object in a real world”’ (Bernar Venet)
‘The artist has managed to find just the right material, thickness and scale to make the arc remain what it was when he began to use it in his work: an unequivocal gesture, intended solely to mark a surface. Even materialized in steel, the arc is undirectional and tends to transform its surroundings into an image, a picture.’ (Extract from Uncompromising Lines by Catherine Millet)
‘It seems as if Venet were playing with the massive, large-scale steel sculptures as a graphic artist does with paper and pen. Usually weighing tonnes, his works cannot be moved without the aid of heavy machinery. Yet they are still possessed of a lightness, like beings suddenly infused with life.’ (Walter Smerling)
Born in 1941 in the South of France. In 1966, he established himself in New York where, over the course of the next five decades, he explored painting, poetry, film, and performance. During the 1960s, Venet developed his Tar paintings, and his iconic Pile of Coal, the first sculpture without a specific shape. Venet had his first retrospective at the New York Cultural Center in 1971. Contributions to major art events such as Kassel Documenta VI, and the Biennales of Paris, Venice and São Paulo, followed. 1979 marked a turning point in Venet’s career: he began a series of wood reliefs – Arcs, Angles, Straight Lines – and created the first of his Indeterminate Lines.
In 1994, Jacques Chirac invited Venet to present his Indeterminate Line sculptures on the Champ de Mars, which developed into a world tour. In 2011, he became the 4th contemporary artist to be offered the world-renowned Château de Versailles for a solo exhibition including his 22-meter vertical Arcs framing the iconic statue of Louis XIV at the entrance.
His work can be found in more than 70 museums worldwide, including the MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, Centre Pompidou, and MOCA in Los Angeles. Venet has also received commissions for sculptures permanently installed in Auckland, Berlin, Paris, Nice, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Venet has been the recipient of several distinguishing honors, including France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Most recently, the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center (ISC).
Bernar Venet, 79.5° Arc x 9, 2009
cor-ten steel, 645 cm x 315 x 150 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Custot Gallery Dubai
Photo credit : Pia Torelli