195.5 Arc x 14


195.5 Arc x 14 is a dynamic sculpture composed of two clusters of cor-ten steel beams that lean against each other for support like two old friends. This work is part of Bernar Venet’s arc series named after their mathematical composition. All fourteen beams are curved gracefully to the exact same angle of 195.5 degrees in a majestic act of balance. These fourteen curves create a rhythmic sculpture which appears both stable and precarious.

Their deceptively precarious appeal hides a happy accident. During transportation these monumental arcs were provisionally placed and Venet saw an opportunity in their momentary alignment, and thereby decided to create a new work. This example illustrates the sculptor’s intention to create compositions that are neither pre-meditated nor planned during the process of artistic production. Venet embraces the uncontrived geometric arrangements in his work, which he believes invite a certain element of chaos, what he calls the ‘collapse of the world’, whilst simultaneously providing focus on fundamental sculptural properties, such as density, mass, balance, form and the manipulation of positive and negative space.

Bernar Venet’s works are predominantly based on theories, which appear to be contradictory, but contextually align themselves in a complementary way. For instance 195.5 Arc x 14 is both dense and precariously angled, determined and non-determined. He sees these polarities as an analogy for how life, matter and nature organises itself according to opposing, yet complementary principles such as order and disorder.


About The Artist

Bernar Venet has practiced for over 50 years to create an exceptional body of work that employs a completely unique conceptual language. Widely credited as one of the pioneers of the conceptual movement, Venet was already experimenting with tar, cardboard and sound in the parade ground of his barracks, whilst carrying out military service in his twenties.

In 1966 Bernar Venet moved to New York where he aligned himself with the avant-garde, creating close friendships with artists such as Joseph Kosuth, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner. A seminal early installation work by Venet, Tas de Charbon (pile of Coal), is acknowledged as the first sculpture without a formal shape. The artist then suspended his studio practice, deciding to redirect his attention to philosophy, teaching at the eminent cultural theory school the Sorbonne in Paris for 5 years. This influence inspired a new approach to his artistic practice, which upon return in 1976, focused predominantly on the subject of the line.

Inspired by mathematical explorations into equilibrium, chance, order and disorder, and the relationship with the environment, Venet has created an impressive and colossal body of work composed of arcs, angles, straight and indeterminate lines, which have now come to define Venet’s sculptural aesthetic. These works are constructed out of russet-coloured cor-ten steel, a material more typically employed in large-scale industry such as bridge construction and the manufacture of shipping containers. Venet believes that no other material is able to absorb and reflect natural light quite as well as cor-ten steel; making it the most perfect material for monumental outdoor sculpture.

‘195.5 Arc x 14’ is currently on display

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Bernar Venet

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