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Who: Bernar Venet, Sculptor
Where: Le Muy, France
When I recently spent a birthday weekend in the South of France with my friends, art collectors and patrons from Recklinghausen, I met a special encounter: The French artist Bernar Venet, one of the internationally outstanding sculptors of the present. His monumental steel sculptures adorn the metropolises around the world – from New York to Paris. Since 1987 the steel arch “Arc de 124,5°” has been located in Berlin at Urania place, a gift from France for the 750th anniversary of the city.
When I look at Bernar Venet’s colossal steel sculptures, the question arises as to how the individual, heavily torn, intertwined fragments are bent. Probably hardly by hand. Bernar Venet’s answer: “With the crane.” Accompany me and Bernar Venet on an exclusive walk through his art foundation in Provence.
Three years ago Bernar Venet, who decided in 1963 to remove the “d” from his first name, founded his foundation. The artistic retreat of the sculptor, who, alongside Pierre Soulages, Martial Raysse and Robert Combas, is one of France’s post-war empires with the highest auction results, is off the beaten track of the Côte d’Azur in Le Muy, a small town above Cannes and Saint-Tropez.
On the site of a former factory and a water mill from the 16th century, Bernar Venet found a place that allowed him to combine three things: firstly, to exhibit his gigantic works in a hangar-like hall and a sculpture garden. Secondly, to show his important, minimalistic art collection for the first time publicly. And thirdly, to produce such large formats as never before.
Bernar Venet and his wife Diane, with “Venet Foundation”, made it their task to make accessible and show the work of other artists friends like Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt and Dan Flavin, to the public. On our walk through the five-acre property he bought in 1989, we walk past work by Anthony Caro, Carl Andre, Richard Long, Tony Cragg, Tony Smith, Philip King, Robert Morris, Larry Bell, and Ulrich Rückriem – and the chapel built by Frank Stella for the sculpture garden and decorated with metal reliefs.
In 2017 also the US artist Fred Sandback is honored with the solo exhibition “Pedestrian Space”. And occasionally the collection of Bernar Venet is supplemented by new exhibits. The largest work in the park was created by Venet himself: a 200-ton sculpture of steel arches, which, by the way, are not the result of a mathematical calculation, but are followed by chance. There I stand, dive into the landscape of the South of France, listen to the sound of the river, notice the chirping of the crickets, and can not turn my gaze from these steel giants. BvH
Visit to the Venet Foundation:
Guided tours are offered in the summer (until 15 September) Thursday afternoons and all-day Fridays. Duration of guided tours approx. 1.5 hours. Only possible with online pre-registration on pre-defined dates. Entrance fee 15 Euros. More information at venetfoundation.org.
The Solo Exhibition 2017:
The Sculpture Park:
Contact Bernar Venet: