The Reserve caught up with French artist Bernar Venet in Cognac as he unveiled his new decanter designed for Martell

 Widely regarded as one of France’s most prolific artists, Bernar Venet began exhibiting his work in 1965. Today, almost five decades on, he shows no sign of slowing down with an impressive collection of shows and exhibitions this year alone in Korea, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and the US. In July, the conceptual artist launched the Venet Foundation, an exhibition space and sculpture park set within four hectares at Venet’s French estate otherwise known as Le Muy. Even more recently he was in Cognac (where The Reserve spoke with him) to unveil a crystal decanter that he was commissioned to make for Martell Premier Voyage, the cognac house’s 300th anniversary blend.

Reminiscent of Venet’s 2011 sculptures presented in the gardens and the Marly Estate at the Palace of Versailles, the design of Martell Premier Voyage’s presentation comprises metal arcs that are divided into three clusters that shelter the teardrop-shaped Sèvres crystal decanter. In the artist’s words, “I was inspired by the date 1715, as it was the year that Louis XIV died and this great cognac house was born. In the past I have created a sculpture around a statue of Louis XIV, and I wanted a sense of continuity with my work. The arches in the work symbolise this continuity, and a sense of time. The three arc clusters represent the three centuries that we are celebrating. There are so many parallels between Versailles, the birthplace of Art De Vivre, and Martell and with what I do.”

According to the artist, the Palace of Versailles presented an ideal backdrop for his sculptures and gave him an opportunity to capture his conception of space. “I found Versailles fascinating even before they started organising contemporary art exhibitions. I made my own photomontages, overlaying my sculptures and the Château de Versailles backdrops. I kept that project secret, along with several other ‘perfect views’ for my work. Versailles, as I see it, is all about wide open spaces and perspectives that stretch as far as the eye can see.”

Known for creating abstract pieces that make reference to the language of mathematics and science, Venet translates his passion for mathematical equations and scientific theories into three-dimensional form. One such representation of this expression was his 2012 collaboration with Bugatti when he was invited to create a work of art that combined the artist’s vision and passions with the carmaker’s Grand Sport model. The result was an application of mathematical formulae calculating the power of the Bugatti engine on the car itself, integrating the symbols of speed and performance both inside and out.

Commenting on the Bugatti collaboration, Venet remarks, “A Bugatti is already a work of art in itself, one that transports both its beholder and its driver into new dimensions of reality. I realised how I could translate my passion for mathematical equations and scientific treatises into three-dimensional form. My works are usually self-referential. So I found the idea of translating the equations of the Bugatti engineers onto the bodywork of the car very appealing. It was, so to speak, a logical conclusion and a new challenge in terms of the specific form of collaboration and implementation. To me, the result is also exceptional when measured by artistic standards and bestows the object with a mythical character.”

Bernar Venet is represented in many important public and private collections all over the world, including The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Centre Pompidou (Paris), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles). In recent years, important retrospectives of the artist’s work have been mounted in Germany, Hungary, France, Spain and South Korea. In Hong Kong, Venet is represented by de Sarthe Gallery, located on the 8th floor of the Club Lusitano building in Central.


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T: +852 33620 3157  |  F: +852 3753 1811  |  |  Data Policy  

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