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Bernar Venet Biography

French artist Bernar Venet is known for his minimalist large-scale steel sculptures, but he has a multi-disciplinary practice. He has also worked across tar, coal, and asphalt. Internationally renowned, his work can be seen in numerous public spaces and collections around the world.

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Early Life

Venet was born in Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, France. As an unwell child, he turned to artwith the help of a local artist and was soon drawing and painting prolifically. In 1958, he studied art for one year at La Villa Thiole in Nice before leaving to pursue his career as an artist. Initially practicing as a painter, he worked as a stage designer at the Nice City Opera in 1959 before joining the French army in 1961.

During this time, he began to paint with tar in a series that he called 'Fetishist Works', which developed into black monochromatic paintings. In 1963, he returned to Nice to continue his work with tar and open a studio. It was at this time that he began his sculptural work. He was greatly influenced by his first visit to New York in 1966 and the Minimalist works he viewed there.

Bernar Venet Artworks

Bernar Venet's sculpture Tas de Charbon (Pile of Coal) (1963) is a seminal work comprising exactly what the title states. As such, it has no exact shape, appearing differently depending on where it is exhibited. It also can be exhibited in multiple locations simultaneously.

Although he is most famous for his sculptures, Bernar Venet's drawings are integral to his practice and frequently inform his sculptural work. This is exemplified in his 'Indeterminate Lines' series, which the artist began in 1979. It nd marked a turning point in his practice.

In the large-scale drawing Indetermined Lines (1987), the adeptness of Venet's material understanding is demonstrated through the precise curves of the line drawn, in charcoal, pastel, and collage, rather than metal.

Venet's interest in the line manifests sculpturally in his public sculpture Indeterminate Line (2004) in Denver, U.S.A. In this work, as with several of the artist's other large-scale metal sculptures, Venet tests the limits of the dense Corten steel in his creation of the perfect curvature of the line that forms the work. The way the work balances in space, making the heavy material seem almost weightless, emphasises the space between the rational and the organic.

Public Commissions

Bernar Venet has public sculptures permanently installed in cities across the world, including Auckland, Austin, Shenzhen, Berlin, Bonn, Denver, Geneva, Neu-Ulm, Nice, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, Toulouse, and Vancouver. In 2012, Venet collaborated with the car manufacturer Bugatti to create a unique car that was first shown at the Rubell Family Collection at Art Basel Miami.

Awards and Accolades

In 2005, Venet was admitted into the French Legion of Honour. He has also been awarded the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris in 1989 and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center in 2016.

Exhibitions

Select solo exhibitions include Another Language for Painting, He Art Museum, Guangdong (2021); IN RELATION: PERFORMANCE / SCULPTURE / PAINTING, de Sarthe, Hong Kong (2018); Bernar Venet. The Conceptual Years 1966—1976, Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMAC), Nice (2018); and Bernar Venet, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2011).

Select group exhibitions include Soleils noirs, Musée du Louvre-Lens, France (2021); Materializing "Six Years": Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012); and Confines / Valencia 09. Histories of the Frontier: Abstract Lines, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (2009). He has also participated in Documenta, the Paris Biennal, the Venice Biennale, and the São Paulo Biennale.

The artist's works are included in numerous important collections, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In 2014, the artist founded the Venet Foundation, an archive and museum of his life's work.

Website and Instagram

Bernar Venet's website can be found here.

Bernar Venet's works are acquired by the most prestigious public collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; and Musée national d'Art modern, Paris. On top of numerous solo and group exhibitions, public and private commissions, he has exhibited at the Château de Versailles, France in 2011, Venice Biennale, Italy in 1978 and at Documenta VI, Kassel, Germany in 1977. A venerated master of his field, Venet has received some of the world's most coveted awards and honours. Among these are a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, Washington D.C., and the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris. In 1996 he was awarded the title of Commandeur dans l'ordre des Arts et Lettres by the Minister of Culture in France, and in 2005, the honour of Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, France's highest decoration.

Tess Charnley | Ocula | 2021

Bernar Venet
featured artworks

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9 Acute Unequal Angles by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Bernar Venet 9 Acute Unequal Angles, 2015 Charcoal, oilstick and collage on paper
153 x 102 cm
DE SARTHE Request Price & Availability
Two Indeterminate Lines by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork drawing
Bernar Venet Two Indeterminate Lines, 2012 Oilstick and collage on paper
57 x 77 cm
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DE SARTHE
Three Indeterminate Lines by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork sculpture
Bernar Venet Three Indeterminate Lines, 1994 Rolled steel
36 x 45 x 47 cm
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DE SARTHE
Three Indeterminate Lines by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork sculpture
Bernar Venet Three Indeterminate Lines, 1993 Rolled steel
36 x 46 x 57 cm
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DE SARTHE
13 Acute Unequal Angles by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork sculpture
Bernar Venet 13 Acute Unequal Angles, 2017 Corten steel
277 x 324 x 130 cm
Waddington Custot Request Price & Availability
11 Uneven Acute Angles by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork sculpture
Bernar Venet 11 Uneven Acute Angles, 2021 Steel
80 x 86 x 39 cm
Waddington Custot Request Price & Availability
Collapse of Acute Angles by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Bernar Venet Collapse of Acute Angles, 2021 Collage and oilstick on paper
130 x 103 cm
Waddington Custot Request Price & Availability
13 Acute Unequal Angles by Bernar Venet contemporary artwork sculpture
Bernar Venet 13 Acute Unequal Angles, 2020 Steel with black patina
82 x 84 x 40 cm
Waddington Custot Request Price & Availability
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Bernar Venet
recent exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

DE SARTHE contemporary art gallery in DE SARTHE, Hong Kong
DE SARTHE Hong Kong, Beijing, Scottsdale
Perrotin contemporary art gallery in Paris Marais, France
Perrotin Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai +1
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Bernar Venet in
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