Since 2014 the Venet Foundation has been based in Le Muy in the Var (south of France) with the aim of preserving the Le Muy property and ensuring the continuity of Bernar Venet‘s work. The domain of Le Muy is the artist’s life project: in the heart of nature he presents a sculpture park with a selection of his own artworks as well as those of major contemporary artists.
Visiting the domain of Le Muy is like opening a giant souvenir album. For our host, each work, whether of his own creation or that of another artist, is linked to a memory, so much so that Le Muy is a marvellous place, out of time, full of emotions and a museum like no other. Follow me for a visit of this enchanting park.
Bernar Venet in a few words
Bernar Venet is a French artist born in 1941. It was first in the United States in the 1960s that he became known by working on drawings and sculptures painted with tar. Later inspired by mathematics and physics he oriented his work in the 80s around the line, creating monumental sculptures in corten steel. His “determined lines” in the form of arcs of angles have found a home in the urban space of many metropolises such as Paris la Défense, Berlin, Tokyo, Beijing, San Francisco or Nice and as far as the Palace of Versailles where he was invited in 2011 to present a monumental exhibition. He bought the Le Muy property in 1989 and set up his foundation there in 2014.
5 works to discover at the Venet Foundation
Visiting the Venet Foundation requires a bit of motivation: open one and a half days a week and by reservation only, you will have to anticipate your visit! This very limited opening can be explained by the fact that the domain of Le Muy is also the residence of Bernar Venet and his wife Diane, so the couple tries to maintain the fragile balance of making their personal cocoon accessible while preserving their intimacy.
With a bit of luck, you may come across Bernar Venet during your visit. Despite his immense success the artist is very accessible and extremely friendly – I thank him again for his warm welcome and the time he gave me to visit the domain and to open up his memories.
“I have been fortunate enough to know and associate with the vast majority of artists whose work I own. Exceptions are rare, and most of the works have been made for me, each with a story attached to it.”
To encourage you to go to the Venet Foundation, here is a selection of some of the artworks you will be able to see there.
Stella Chapel by Frank Stella
Bernar Venet had bought six works by Frank Stella but their imposing dimensions required the construction of a specific building to present them. In the course of discussions between the two artists the idea of a chapel was born where art and thought took precedence over religion.
Elliptic Elliptic by James Turrell
In this ovoid building, the artist invites us to observe the sky in a narrow space free of any visual pollution and brought to light thanks to a device integrated into the sculpture. James Turrell thus sculpts the sky and brings out the intensity of its colour.
Versailles Collapse by Bernar Venet
In 2011, Bernar Venet exhibited monumental works at the Palace of Versailles. Those who were lucky enough to see this exhibition probably remember the impressive huge metal arches that surrounded – among others – the equestrian statue of Louis XIV.
Following this exhibition, Bernar Venet recovered these arches to make what he calls a “collapse”. In opposition to the very elegant installation at Versailles, this transformed work symbolizes a return to nature as if gravity had done its job and brought down the 160 tons or so that make up this creation. Faced with the gigantism of this work, we might as well tell you that we feel very small and that it is only with an aerial view that we can realize its immensity.
Something Green by Larry Bell
Here is a work that Larry Bell produced especially for the Venet Foundaton. The artist is known for his work on issues of perception and optical illusion. His cubes abolish for him the boundary between painting and sculpture: both opaque and transparent; volumes and surfaces where light alone reveals colour.
Unleashed by Arman
Arman is a singular artist for Bernar Venet: indeed, when he was ignored by critics in the 1960s, Arman invited him to settle in New York and hosted him in his studio, which will undoubtedly be a turning point in his career. This work presented at Le Muy reflects this personal side mentioned in the introduction to this article and Bernar Venet’s desire to exhibit works for which he certainly has a crush but which are also tinged with a personal story.
“As early as 1963, I quickly benefited from the support and friendship of artists such as Arman, César, Villeglé and Deschamps who were very generous with me. I was totally unknown and having the privilege of exchanging with artists who were changing the course of history in Europe was gratifying and reassuring. Our works had no commercial value. We produced more than we sold, and trading one work for another gave us a complicit and reassuring pleasure.”
Visit of the foundation in video
To give you a better idea of the foundation, here is a video tour:
News of the Venet Foundation
During the summer of 2020 Bernar Venet exhibits a selection of furniture elements. The artist brings an “architectural writing” that does not seek to create a piece of furniture but rather a work of art on furniture.
Also to be seen, an unpublished installation by the artist Lawrence Weiner until October 16th.
In addition, the Venet Foundation continues to grow, as Bernar Venet still has many ideas and desires to present more and more works. A place to see and see again!
Chemin du Moulin des Serres
83490 Le Muy
Visits on Thursday afternoons and Fridays at 10:15, 13:45 and 15:45, by reservation only.
Mandatory registration on www.venetfoundation.org
Free for children under 12 years old
The payment is in dollars because the Venet Foundation is an American corporation.
Many thanks to Bernar Venet, Diane Venet and Alexandre Devals for their welcome and to Chloé from the agency l’Art en Plus for this beautiful discovery.