Bernar Venet - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    Two Indeterminate Lines, 2006, is an elegant example of Bernar Venet’s conceptual sculptural practice that is defined by his longstanding preoccupation with the scientific and mathematical realms. The arced sculpture presents a myriad of steel lines coagulating in the form of a whirlwind which bewilders the viewer, challenging conventional geometric logic. Created just two years after Venet was bestowed France’s highest award, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, Two Indeterminate Lines captures the crux of the artist’s thematic explorations and is situated at the apex of his mature chapter. Venet has been exploring the properties and mechanisms of equilibrium through the creation of mesmerizing sculptures that are straight, curved, broken, tilted, or oblique. Though Venet’s oeuvre spans a variety of media – including drawing, photography, and set design – his most significant artistic gestures have been materialized in steel, for which he has become renowned and acclaimed worldwide.

    Though Venet was deeply influenced by the work of French forebearers such as Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne while growing up in France, he developed a conceptual practice following his move to New York in the 1960s. Initially in drawing and painting, he veered towards sculpture – befriending such artists as Carl Andre, Robert Morris, and Donald Judd, and rising to prominence as one the leading artists in the then emerging conceptual and minimalist movements. His signature Indeterminate Lines series, which he began in 1979, was inspired by mathematical investigations surrounding notions of chance, order, and balance. Typically curvilinear and monumental in size, the artist’s sculptures from this period have transformed arresting outdoor spaces, such as the Gardens of Versailles, Paris, Regent’s Park, London, and the Palais du Pharo Park, Marseille.

    Two Indeterminate Lines is an exceptional example of Venet’s focused yet enigmatic practice; it urges the viewer to follow its inherently divergent material course, in search of a beginning and an end. Yet, this proves to be an almost impossible endeavor: the industrial lines composing the sculpture weave a complex and cohesive composition that eschews any possibility of individual discernment. Through such masterful rendering, Two Indeterminate Lines materializes Venet’s career-long resolve to transpose mathematical concepts and scientific theories into the realm of art.

From the Private Collection of William Harris Smith, Chicago


Two Indeterminate Lines

rolled steel
58 7/8 x 67 x 50 1/2 in. (149.5 x 170.2 x 128.3 cm.)
Executed in 2006, this work is included in the artist's archives under inventory number bv06s1.

This work is eligible for a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $262,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue