August 9, 2019
What Richard Serra is to steel slabs, Bernar Venet is to steel bars. Venet may be less famous than his counterpart, but he is a giant of modern sculpture in his own right and, like Serra, a master at bending massive pieces of weathered steel to his will.
Since the 1960s, Venet has been producing endless variations on his complex tangles, bundles, and piles of ruddy steel. Ranging from rigorously geometric to almost spontaneous in feeling, all of his pieces are products of a meticulous conceptual approach. One might imagine the 78-year-old Venet, the holder of a knighthood in France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour, as a grand old figure sketching in a leather-bound notebook at his Provençal estate as the wind whistles through the cypresses. But non.