Bernar Venet was born in 1941 in Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban, France, and lives and works in New York. He is a conceptual artist known for his curved sculptures realized in diverse materials, especially coal, steel, asphalt or tar.
From 1955 to 1958, he studied at École Libre, Groupe Scolaire Paul Lapie and then studied art at La Villa Thiole, Nice. In 1966, Venet first traveled to New York City where he was influenced by Minimalism and, one year later, he decided to move there permanently. In 1967 he attended classes at the Department of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University, an experience that helped him tie his artistic practice to the world of science and mathematics. At the same time, he had the opportunity to forge ties with artists such as Arman, Jean Tinguely, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, exhibiting in several New York galleries. He became recognized for his amorphous sculptures focusing on the analytical study of materials: balance, control, and the relationship between shapes in space, as he stated: “My interest in art was focused on the content, not on the visual side.” Between 1971 and 1976 he moved to Paris to teach at the Sorbonne and his artistic production stopped temporarily for a period of reflection on his career. From 1976 to 1979 he returned to New York, resumed his practice and began to develop arched structures, angled tubes and pipes, all realized in corten steel that, in following years, were housed in prominent locations throughout the world. With the presentation of a series of sculptures in wood, 1979 is considered the fundamental year of Venet’s establishment on the international scene. Since the 80s, he exhibited in many cities and continues, even today, to impress audiences around the world. He has the highest number of sculptures for a French artist–over thirty–placed in public places in cities including Auckland, Austin, Beijing, Berlin, Cologne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo and Toulouse. He was appointed to the Legion of Honour by the French Minister of Culture (2005). He received the International Julio González Sculpture Prize (2013), granted by IVAM, the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris (2013), founded the Venet Foundation (2014), and won, together with Kiki Smith, the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture (2016), from the International Sculpture Center.