Perrotin is pleased to inform you that the artist Bernar Venet will give a performance on April 4, at 6pm, Perrotin Marais. This will be followed by a conference at 60 rue de Turenne, 7pm. Free admission.
Perrotin is pleased to present the exhibition Diffeomorphism and Discontinuity, marking its new collaboration with Bernar Venet, a leading figure in contemporary sculpture and a pioneer of conceptual art. Presented across the three spaces of Perrotin, the exhibition showcases the full range of his prolific oeuvre combining sculptures, reliefs, paintings, drawings, and engravings and is complemented by a monumental installation on Place Vendôme in Paris curated by Jérôme Sans. As a tribute to the artist’s practice in public space, this large-scale intervention places his work in one of the most prestigious squares in Paris. This major event is a celebration of one of the most important artists of his generation, featuring recent works never before exhibited in Paris.
Born in 1941, Bernar Venet has been radically redefining the boundaries of art for over sixty years. Although best known for his often monumental Corten-steel Angles, Arcs, and Indeterminate Lines that divide and traverse space, he works in a multitude of media, which he connects according to a principle of equivalence. Oscillating between the precision of mathematics and the unpredictability of chance, his work revolves around order and disorder, probing the limits of geometry and abstraction.
The gallery space at 76 rue de Turenne is entirely dedicated to his recent paintings, with a particular emphasis on his pictorial activity. Created in 2022, Trajectoires paraboliques gravitaires, a set of round paintings on a white background, is a nod to his early conceptual work, recalling the aesthetics of his Diagrams. Similar to these works from 1966, the artist adopted the unambiguous language of mathematics to produce a completely new form of painting. Filled with diagrams, and equations, his paintings take abstraction to a level unprecedented in the history of art. The artist uses the concept of “monosemy” – derived from the semiologist Jacques Bertin – to describe his art: “My work uses signs that are essentially monosemic, and which, in contrast to those in previous works of art, have only one level of meaning”. His new paintings experiment with the precision of linguistic content and the illegibility of its presentation.
For his latest series, Difféomorphismes, the artist digitally distorts complex scientific texts to further disrupt their legibility. The earlier Saturations series followed the same logic, layering mathematical formulas and symbols to the point of incomprehensibility, creating a sense of confusion that contrasts with the logic of the reproduced formulas.
The space Saint-Claude confronts visitors with the key element of Bernar Venet’s work: the line. Like a refined diagram, the latter gradually escapes the scientific universe and the canvas to become an independent entity in space. Freed from mathematical rigor, the line crisscrosses the exhibition space in multiple forms: relief, sculpture, and drawing. The series GRIB and Lignes indéterminées feature unplanned distortions, the result of uncontrolled gestures, emphasizing the place of spontaneity and unpredictability in his work.
Geometrically determined but randomly arranged, the Arcs of Empilements and Effondrements create a horizontal sculpture in which chance prevails. His graphic work is not preliminary but rendered in oil pastel once his sculptures and reliefs are completed, reflecting another crucial stage in his process: the transposition of his sculptural work into the two-dimensionality of paper.
The gallery space at 8 Avenue Matignon brings together paintings, sculptures, new wooden reliefs, drawings, and recent engravings. Arcs, Angles and Lignes indéterminées, together with Difféomorphismes, offer a unique overview of the whole range of his formal laboratory. Highlighting Bernar Venet’s skill in transposing his motifs from one medium to another, this site celebrates the circularity between them. As the artist explains: “Starting from an open conceptual matrix characteristic of my work, the pieces evolve in different disciplines, opening the door to new possibilities.”
Featuring recent pieces – some on show for the first time – the whole exhibition attests to the richness of a constantly expanding plastic vocabulary. Like a major retrospective of his work of the past twenty years, the selection in the three spaces traces a path across the key practices of an artist who never ceases to propose new solutions to his theoretical problems, shake up the rules, and reinvent himself.
Curator: Jérôme Sans
A project by Perrotin
In conjunction with the exhibition Diffeomorphism and Discontinuity, on show at Perrotin Marais and Matignon from March 18, the internationally recognized French artist Bernar Venet presents the installation The Parabola of History at the Place Vendôme, curated by Jérôme Sans. As a tribute to his work in public space, this installation uses the artist's trademark geometric vocabulary and his favorite material: Corten steel.
Erected on the cobblestones, two Corten-steel Arc sculptures interact with the square’s barren geometric order, designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1699. On one side, two methodically stacked and intertwined tilted Arcs (Arcs penchés) stretch towards the sky.
On the other side, as a result of random forces, a series of collapsing Arcs (Effondrement) form a closed circle, like an agora that the visitors can enter. From the celestial to the terrestrial, an alchemical combination of order and chance, the sculptures interact with each other, converging in their horizontality. Frequently used in construction, Corten steel evolves like a living skin while being extremely resistant. At once ephemeral, durable, ordered, and chaotic, his sculptures reflect the dualities inherent in artistic creation and existence.
Resulting from a constant desire to rethink the traditional forms of sculpture, the stacked, colliding metal bars defy the classical principle of formal elevation. No longer erected but collapsed, Bernar Venet’s sculpture subverts the rules. The falling sensation created by the stacking of steel bars, as imposing as they are elegant, refers to the history of the Vendôme column, demolished in 1871 before being rebuilt a few years later.
Born in 1941
Lives and works in Le Muy, France
As a central figure on the international art scene, Bernar Venet has lived mainly in New York since 1966, and now resides in Le Muy in the Var where the Venet Foundation organizes exhibitions every summer. The very radical artistic positions of his period in Nice, as well as those he adopted upon his arrival in the United States, allowed him to exhibit early on with the great representatives of Minimal and Conceptual Art of the time. Particularly recognized for his monumental sculptures in corten steel, his work has continued to flourish and to be celebrated accross diverse fields including painting, performance, poetry, sound, design and photography.
His work is collected by more than a hundred prestigious institutions around the world, including the Centre Pompidou (Paris), MoMA and the Guggenheim (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), the National Museum of Modern Art (Seoul). He has also carried out numerous public commissions in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and America.