Spotlight: Artist Bernar Venet Has Installed Four Monumental, Mathematical Sculptures in an Outdoor Exhibition at Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square This Summer

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What You Need to Know: Frequenters of London’s Grosvenor Square this summer will be met with a series of four large-scale steel sculptures from the French artist Bernar Venet. Supported by the Venet Foundation and presented by London gallery Waddington Custot in partnership with Art in Mayfair, the exhibition of Venet’s monumental Cor-Ten and rolled steel sculptures illustrates the artist’s mathematic and scientific approach to artmaking and sculptural composition. Considered one of the most important French artists working today, Venet’s work is recognized as self-referential, with the lines, angles, and curves stripped of any symbolic allusions or decorative adornment. Instead, the works operate as irreducible monoliths that affect perceptions of the sites they occupy. The exhibition of works will remain on view in Grosvenor Square through August 29, 2023.

Bernar Venet, (1992). Courtesy of Waddington Custot, London.

About the Artist: Conceptual artist Bernar Venet (b. 1941) is most well-known for his precise, mathematically rigorous sculptures frequently executed in steel. Within his artistic practice, he has also undertaken ongoing experiments with other industrial materials, such as coal and asphalt. In the 1960s, Venet was influenced by the work of Arman and the New Realists working in Paris and began crafting sculptures out of cardboard. A 1966 visit to New York exposed him to Minimalism, and he subsequently shared a studio with Arman in downtown Manhattan and interacted with artists such as Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. Over the subsequent decades, the artist honed his signature style, and his work came to reflect his ongoing formal artistic investigations. In 2005, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and in 2014 he opened the Venet Foundation, a museum and archive of his work. This year, 2023, marks the 60th anniversary of Venet’s seminal work (1963), made of coal, which heralded the start of his meticulous investigative practice.

Bernar Venet, (2021). Courtesy of Waddington Custot, London.

 

Why We Like It: Summer weather demands time spent in London’s city parks—and the addition of Venet’s immense steel sculptures makes Grosvenor Square an unmissable destination in the coming weeks. Featuring examples of the artist’s “Arcs,” “Lines,” and “Angles,” the concise exhibition of works in the open air allows viewers to circumvent and perceive each sculpture from myriad perspectives and immerse themselves in Venet’s singular artistic vision. The scale of the sculptures makes them a natural addition to one of the city’s most famous garden squares, and the juxtaposition between the precisely executed works and the organic and built landscape surrounding them lend to new insights into both the works themselves and Venet’s practice itself. The open-air exhibition also invites prolonged looking and consideration, as a site of leisure and respite, Grosvenor Square presents an opportunity to engage in an unhurried reflection on the work of one of contemporary art’s most influential sculptors.

Bernar Venet, (2006). Courtesy of Waddington Custot, London.

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