Bernar Venet (b.1941, Château-Arnoux, France), is a conceptual artist best known for his curved sculptures in steel which appear to defy gravity with their mathematical precision and swooping forms.
Venet was fascinated with art from an early age, influenced by his mother and a keen interest in books. Whilst serving an obligatory twenty-two months in military service, Venet continued making work, developing his black monochromatic tar paintings and Pile of Coal (1963), widely recognised as the first sculpture without a specific shape and regarded as one of his most famous works.
In 1966, Venet established himself in New York where over the course of the next four decades he explored painting, poetry, film and performance, though he was particularly attracted to pure science as a subject for art.
Venet’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe, the United States, South America and Asia both in solo museum shows, as well as in major art events such as the Kassel Documenta in 1977, and the Biennales of Paris, Venice and São Paulo. To date, Venet is the most internationally exhibited French artist with 30 public sculpture exhibitions and monumental works permanently installed in cities including Auckland, Austin, Berlin, Bonn, Denver, Geneva, Lyon, Neu-Ulm, Nice, Paris, Seoul, Shenzhen, and Toulouse.
He is the recipient of many awards including the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration. In February 2016, the International Sculpture Center endowed Venet the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his exemplary contributions to the field of sculpture and in 2020 he was admitted to the Royal Society of Sculptors.
Bernar Venet at Louvre-Lens Museum
This July, Louvre-Lens, France will open an exhibition dedicated to the work of contemporary artist Bernar Venet. The Gravity Hypothesis, will see a monumental work by Venet housed within the 1000m² of the luminous Glass Pavilion.
The artist explains, 'My installation at the Louvre-Lens can be considered the most characteristic demonstration of all the works that I have created in recent years. To scatter in the Glass Pavilion a heap of steel bars composed of Arcs, Angles and Straight Lines in an uncontrolled and irreversible disorder, is to offer a work that demonstrates the non-proportional, the non- constructed and not preestablished'.
Venet is best known for his swooping, linear sculptures in steel. The artist rose to prominence through the avant-garde art scene in the mid 1960s as he developed a radical new approach, combining mathematics and scientific language, alongside artists such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Lawrence Weiner.Read more
Exhibitions and Art Fairs
The works in this group presentation demonstrate the translation of drawing into the three-dimensional; towering monumental installations protrude from the walls, and curl up from floors, while the negative space of the picture plane is variously architecturally structured, or revealed through light and shade.
The exhibition includes works by Peter Blake, Enrico Castellani, Michael Craig-Martin, Ian Davenport, Jean Dubuffet, Barry Flanagan, Peter Halley, Hans Hartung, Frank Stella and Bernar Venet among others.
One of Bernar Venet’s iconic Indeterminate Line sculptures, created in rolled steel, shows the French artist’s approach to conceptualising and configuring space.
Mgarap Bangke, a 2004 wall-based sculpture by Frank Stella, similarly towers in a tangle of industrial materials, which the artist has coerced into curving organic forms. Moulded sections of dark carbon fibre are supported by circular loops of unpainted stainless-steel tubing and geometric rails.
A new painting by Ian Davenport, titled Yellow and Purple (Double), is also displayed, portraying the artist's use of colour as a tool to delineate space through controlled movements of vibrant paint.
Frieze New York
This diverse presentation of artworks spans several decades, with pieces connecting through a multitude of points.