A pink taxi

A pink taxi

July 28, 2010

Artistic axioms

Recently, we were invited for lunch at Bernar Venet's house. I was honored as I have long admired his work.

We went on this artistic pilgrimage in Muy, North of Saint Tropez.  Bernar Venet, in his 70s today, is from the Saint Tropez generation of Belmondo and Bardot; and he wants to live close enough to the entertainment. His residence is a renovated old mill (moulin) with a park on the banks of a stream. The new buildings, which exhibit his works and include his studio, blend nicely with  the Mediterranean environment, despite their modern lines.

We sat for lunch in his gardens and spoke of art. We were surrounded by larger than life scuptures, mainly arcs and twisted indefinite lines. He told us about his many projects around the world. Public art. Grandiose sculptures.

Venet is also a painter. He paints mathematical axioms. Mathematics are art and music he explains. The sight of one reminds you of high school when school blackboards were left forgotten after a math class, with a gibberish of intimidating graphs, figures and logarithms. Venet doesn't imagine mathematics that way. He explained to me that math are  the ultimate abstract form and since he was seeking abstraction in art, what better way to show that, than a juxtaposition of mathematical terms, all painted with reference to beauty and not to "real" mathematics!

It reminded me of the movie "Beautiful Minds", which also glorified the beauty of mathematics. In my layman's mind, very advanced mathematics serve as theory, almost like theological studies, so abstract are those formulas to me.

I was holding my four year old son on my lap, at the desk of Venet, as he kindly autographed the latest publications about his art. My son then found a mathematics book on the desk, for the brevet exam (10th grade) and was leafing through it, the sight of mathematics formulas and axioms leaping at him. Those are Bernar Venet's source of inspiration.


  1. This was a visit I looked forward to and missed!!

  2. I have visited Venet on many occasions,namely to his beautiful sculptures in the city of Nice.His arc in the largest squares of the city,his infinity on the Promonade,and recently his columns commorating the 150th anniversary of the city.Though he spends time in the US,he is definitely a pioneer of the ecole de Nice.Having a small sculpture of his at home,makes you feel that you have a piece of Nice at home!

  3. Perhaps, one day I shall also visit this Master!!