Last year at the age of 73, legendary French artist Bernar Venet quietly opened the doors to his Venet Foundation, a sculpture park and gallery housed in a former factory next to the leafy village of Le Muy in the Var region of France.
Dedicated to minimalist art produced in and after the 1960s, the pieces on show comprise his own works as well as pieces from his own 100-strong collection, most of which he acquired informally, through longstanding friendships with fellow art world luminaries such as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Richard Long among many others. While Jean Tinguely created a baroque candlestick for his fiftieth birthday, Kawara, who Venet regularly got together with to play ping pong, sent him a series of ‘I got up at’ postcards every day for the month of December 1969. The list goes on.
'Soon after my arrival in New York [where Venet lived for a time in the 1960s], Christo did a wrapped portrait for me, and in exchange I offered him a Diagram painting, which I see each time I visit him. That was the spirit in which my collection began to take shape.'
This summer, the Venet Foundation launches its second summer season with a show dedicated to the work of artist Jean Tinguely and called 'Tinguely – The final collaborations with Yves Klein'.
Curated by the Foundation's director, Alexandre Devals, the show showcases two important pieces from Tinguely's vast body of, in his words, 'machines that serve no purpose,' including his final collaboration with Yves Klein (1988). On loan from the Tinguely Museum in Basel, the complex structure of scrap iron, foam, wooden wheels, bulbs, electric engines is set up in front of a series of mirrors that lend it an uncertain depth.
In addition to the machines, a film about Jean Tinguely will also be screened in a dining room featuring a table, eight chairs and a light fixture, all designed by the artist for the Tinguely Café in Kyoto and recreated especially for the Venet Foundation. Like most of the Foundation's featured artists, Bernar Venet often ran into Tinguely on the streets of New York in the 1960s. Venet remembers '[For me], Tinguely’s importance on the art scene, his originality as a sculptor, and his ambition, pushed his work well beyond traditional approaches, are a source of great admiration.'