Massive Bernar Venet statue graces Germany's former capital

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

Remember 1989

Bernar Venet's most recent piece of public art was unveiled in Germany's former capital, Bonn, on June 5. In his hallmark style using massive piece of steel, the work examines the changing identity of Bonn, which relinquished its status as Germany's capital following reunification. Click through the gallery for more impressive works by Bernar Venet.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

Framing the Sun King

With one of his monumental steel sculptures, Bernar Venet framed the monument of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, in 2011. Decisive for the effect of the installation on the Place d'Armes in Versailles is the visual axis. From the viewer's point of view, the steel surrounds the statue. If the viewer stands directly behind the statue, the middle part of the Palace of Versailles is framed.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

International recognition

In 1966, Venet moved to New York to gain reputation and develop as an artist. Since then, he has participated in the Documenta in Kassel and the Venice Art Biennale several times. In 2013, he was awarded the Julio González International Prize. On this occasion his sculpture "230.5 ° Arc x 15 '' was installed in the atrium of the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (pictured).

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

In Germany and around the world

The sculpture "Triptyque, 220 ° arc x 5" stands in front of the entrance of the art museum of the wealthy Swabian businessman Reinhold Würth in Erstein in Alsace (pictured shortly before the opening of the museum 2008). Works by Venet can be found in more than 70 museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

Venet steel between the Alps and the Mediterranean

This steel arch looks like the huge base of a cradle. "Arc de 115.5 Degrees" stands in the maritime flair of the park for Albert I on the French Riviera. Bernar Venet studied formative arts in Nice.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

Clash with nature

In 2010, the art project "Krauthügel" presented nine steel sculptures by Bernar Venet in Salzburg, Austria. They stood on the meadow below the fortress for three months - and reaped a great deal of protest. The terrain is part of a nature reserve, which is why many rejected Venets sculptures.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

The art of chaos

"Désordre," or "chaos," is the name of these monumental steel sculptures. The master of this chaos, Bernar Venet, strides through the sculptures in Marseille in 2013. The southern French city in the Provence was European Capital of Culture at that time.

The artistic metal bending of Bernar Venet

Fast math

It is not only through his sculptures that Venet expresses his passion for mathematics. The French artist has decorated the interior and the exterior of this Bugatti art car with mathematical formulas. The formulas are used to calculate the power of a motor.

He known for oversized steel statues in public spaces. Now French artist Bernar Venet's latest work has been unveiled in Bonn. "ARC '89" is a nod to German reunification and changes in Bonn after being the capital.

Fourteen bent steel beams protrude 17 meters (over 55 feet) into the sky. The enormous sculpture with the cryptic name "ARC '89" weighs an impressive 42 tons.

The crescent-shaped steel beams bent in an 89-degree angle are a reference to the year 1989, which plays a special role in German history: The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, leading to the reunification of Germany in the following year. Bonn had been the capital of West Germany, but Berlin in the East later became the capital of the reunified country.

"ARC '89" stands for renewal and change - precisely what Bonn has experienced since 1989.

"Rusty Spaghetti" became the nickname of the colossus even before its unveiling on June 5. Bernar Venet specifically designed his work for this space - a roundabout on Bonn's Museum Mile, just opposite the Art and Exhibition Hall. In times of diminished city funds, the work is on loan to the city of Bonn and financed by a 10-year loan. At the end of the decade, the local politics will decide what happens next.

From stage designer to sculptor

No question, the steel sculptures have made the name Bernar Venet a hallmark - an outstanding contemporary sculptor. "ARC '89" is just one of many of this genre.

Bernar Venet in front of one of his sculptures

Bernar Venet was born in 1941 in Château-Arnoux in France. At the age of 10 he devoted himself to painting. In 1961 he began to work artistically. Previously, he had studied at the Municipal School of Formative Arts in Nice. Until 1863, Venet worked as a stage designer at the opera in the southern French city. In 1971, he took a five-year hiatus in which he devoted himself to art issues and taught art and theory at the Sorbonne University.

Restart and shift in emphasis

In this phase of life Venet sought answers to physical and mathematical questions. The line became an artistic challenge for him. This is reflected in his sculptures because by means of the line in the steel sculptures he explores time, space, motion, system, and randomness.

When Venet resumed his artistic activity in 1976 he made paintings and wood reliefs and also created his first steel sculptures. He also made several excursions into the world of ballet, music, photography, and film. However, his main focus is the sculpture. Venet won the 1989 "Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris" and took part in Documenta VI and VII in Kassel and the 38th and 53rd Venice Biennales.

Venet's publically commissioned sculptures can certainly not go unnoticed. They can be found in New York, Nice, Luxembourg and Berlin - and now also in Bonn.

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