1961… Looking Forward!

April 20 – June 16, 2024


Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

Bernar Venet, one of the most influential conceptual artists in the world, exhibited in Venice for the first time at the 39th International Art Exposition in 1978.

Now, more than 40 years later, on the occasion of the 60th Biennale d’Arte di Venezia 2024, the French artist returns to Venice with an extensive solo exhibition in the lavish spaces of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana of Venice, from April 20 until June 16, 2024.

From April 20 until June 16, 2024, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana presents “Bernar Venet – 1961… Looking Forward!”, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, and the Association for Art in Public, in one of Venice’s most iconic sites, the historic Sala Sansoviniana, accessible through the Museum Correr. Venet’s works will be placed in a historical-artistic setting among the paintings of Tiziano, Tintoretto and Veronese. Bernar Venet, one of the most influential conceptual artists in the world, exhibited for the first time in Venice at the 39th International Art Exposition in 1978. Now, more than 40 years later, the French artist returns to Venice with an expansive solo exhibition on the occasion of the 60th Biennale d’Arte di Venezia 2024. This exhibition, curated by Professor Beate Reinfenscheid, proposes a vision far removed from Venet’s conceptually radical beginnings, moving away from any mainstream art of the early 1960s and focusing on his influential statements on art since then.

Bernar Venet – 1961…Looking Forward!” will feature the artist’s iconic Tar paintings and Cardboard reliefs, as well as two impressive spatial installations. As the title of the exhibition alludes, visitors will be confronted with the beginnings of Benar Venet. In 1961, while serving in the army in Tarascon, southern France, Venet, then 19, began experimenting with simple, new materials that became the distinctive signature of his artistic explorations: tar and cardboard. In only two years, quickly, and with great conviction, he conceived the themes that would characterize his artistic activity for many years, making a radical innovation in the process. In a brief and dense period, works like the Tar paintings, the Coal Pile and Taramacadam were created. Even more surprising than these artistic approaches was that Bernar Venet was already recording his activity through photography. Practically every action is documented: casting tar along the side of a pit, the execution of Five India Ink Drawings in Three Seconds (1961), and his first piece of performance art in which Venet lies in garbage on the streets of Tarascon.

As the title suggests, the exhibition is focused on Venet’s innovative and unyielding beginnings that enter into direct dialogue with the 60th International Art Exposition of Venice and demonstrate their validity and vitality for the future.

Bernar Venet

Born in 1941 in the South of France, Bernar Venet showed a strong attraction to art from a very young age. At 17 years old, he moved to Nice and worked as a scenographer at the Opéra de Nice. After having completed his military service, he dedicated himself entirely to art. In 1966 he decided to settle in New York, where he developed an artistic production incorporating mathematical and scientific texts that made him one of the pioneers of conceptual art. Venet’s career is marked by a long series of milestones. In 2008, Sotheby invited Venet to exhibit 25 large sculptures on the grounds of the Isleworth Country Club in Florida. It was the first time the venerable auction house had presented a single artist at the venue.

In May 2010, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy inaugurated a 30-meter-high sculpture to celebrate the 150thanniversary of Nice’s reunification with France.

In 2011, Bernar Venet became the fourth contemporary artist to be invited to install his work on the grounds of the famous Versailles castle.

His work can be found in more than 70 museums worldwide, including venerable institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and the Muséed’Art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva.

Once Extraordinary Events managed institutional relations with the exposition venue, handled the set-up and take-down phases, and took care of the exhibition communication.

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