Bernar Venet

b. 1941

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.

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Defining Space

A group exhibition of 20th and 21st century artists

Waddington Custot reopens its Cork Street gallery on 2 December with Defining Space, a physical realisation of its online Art Basel Miami Beach 2020 presentation. The group show explores the impact of negative space within the work of 20th and 21st century artists, demonstrating how line and drawing play a crucial role in mapping out imagined spatial configurations. 


The works in this 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.


Defining Space 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.


A recent large-scale drawing by Bernar Venet, who is now represented by Waddington Custot, is shown alongside one of the artist's iconic Arcs. The work was created in rolled steel the following year and shows the French conceptual 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 paints. 

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Exhibitions and Art Fairs