Bernar Venet is known internationally for his large-scale steel sculptures. French born, Venet has based himself between Europe and New York City since 1967. Exhibiting since 1968, his works have been shown in major museums across Europe, the USA and Asia. Public sculptures have been commissioned and installed in equally as many varied locations including Cologne, Japan, Norway, Luxembourg, New York and Chicago, among others.
When Venet first went to New York at the age of 24 he encountered the works of minimalist sculptors such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andrew and Sol Lewitt, and was immediately drawn to their work through citing similarities to ideas he was already exploring in his own work. This spurred Venet’s art practice for many years - producing paintings, installations, drawings and wall mural pieces in steel, wood and coal. Today, Venet’s most recognized bodies of works are his steel indeterminate lines and arcs. These sculptures are grounded in a minimalist aesthetic, but also stem from his academic investigations into science and mathematics.
Venet’s sculptures are an exploration of material, form, balance and spatial perception. monumentally sized. They hold viewers in awe of our insignificance in relation to these pieces of cold hard steel. However these works are not immune to being affected by their surroundings. These works change in appearance and perception each time they are installed in a new place, relating to their surrounding architecture and landscape. The power of this change is evident when viewing these works in such situations such as on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower, or in the middle of Park Avenue, New York.
Each arc sculpture is engraved with its corresponding angle degree from which it derives, for example arc 225. This locates the work within its rational and mathematics beginnings, and provides some reassurance when viewing these precariously balanced objects. On the other hand, the indeterminate lines seem to ask to be put back together into some picture or other. They represent the state of indeterminacy as an aspect of everything that has to do with flux. As aristotle put it, “nothing is true of what is changing”. So anything in the process of flux is indeterminate. It is as if the arcs and angles had started out as indeterminate lines; then, as the ontogenetic process advanced, they hardened or rigidified into a determinate state.
Venet’s sculptures continue to tour Europe and North America, with recent exhibitions in France, Belgium, Chicago just to name a few. In 2004 Venet held three simultaneous solo exhibitions across New York City.