A pink taxi

A pink taxi

August 8, 2010

Maquette de Venet

This summer, in Nice, a 30m high Venet sculpture , which consists of vertical beams jutting towards the sky, was installed permanently on the prestigious Promenade des Anglais. Its rust color looking like a summer tan, the sculpture stands proud to have been inaugurated by the President Sarkozy, this june.

At La "Petite Maison", you can dine in very close proximity to the impressive Venet piece. La Petite Maison is one of the few restaurants for the wealthy, in the old city of Nice. Why do the rich shun Nice? Why do they look down on the rue Pietonne, the old City and it's socca stores (a pizza of chickpea base, a Nice delicacy)? Why do they forget to visit the Musee de Nice and the Musee Matisse? They arrive, chauffeur driven, like Kashoggi did recently, dropped off at the restaurant famous for its local loup de mer and its artichoke entree. What stunned me when I entered this restaurant was the amount of pampered people dining in elegance, in contrast with the otherwise urban-touristic-casual atmosphere of Nice. When they brought us the bread, piping hot, in a boulangerie paper bag, I couldn't help noticing the illustration by Ben, the Nicois artist, in his ubiquitous handwriting: " ici, tous celebres" (here, all are famous).

Other famous clients of La Petite Maison, besides royalty, are Bernar and Diane Venet who are very pleased that their sculpture, a donation to the city, found a locale that is on the Promenade and of course, in front of their favorite restaurant. This they confirmed to me today, on a visit we made to their domaine in Muy.

Bernar Venet also assured me that his grand plan to exhibit at Versailles could finally be disclosed. "What an honor!" I exclaimed when he had informed me of the project. "For who?" he asked, with much humour. My memorable trip to Versailles was barely a month old and I listened closely to the story behind the project.

In the posting "Patrick Tourneboeuf ", I had alluded to the unforgetable Jeff Koones exhibit at Versailles: his giant lobster baloon hanging in the Hall of Mirrors. I should have also mentioned the upcoming September exhibit of Murikami at Versailles (I am sorry I will miss that by two months). Yet, the discovery of an exhibit of Bernar Venet, who would be the third contemporary artist, at this historical monument, strung a personal chord for me. Like the other two artists that I admire, Venet's strong and simple lines will create a lovely contrast between 21st century art and classical French art at its best.

The story is even more intriguing. Venet was contacted to create a very signicative and symbolic work of art: a commission to retrieve the steel from the infamous New York Twin Towers, melt it as and create a sculpture. He has selected two immense twin sculptures, consisting each of a collection of standing arcs. He would install them next to the fountains in Versailles, in the gardens of Le Notre, at a distance, framing the palace. The reminded me of two large parentheses.  He smiled my idea away. "A frame" was certainly more artisitic.

My child and my nephew, sat in Venet's kitchen, devouring croissants for an early breakfast. Petit dejeuner avec Venet.

We discussed art with him, and a family member invested in the original maquette of the Nice statue, which we had admired from our table at La Petite Maison. Appetite for art can always be opened after a satisfying meal.


  1. On her early visit to Muy,the little village in the Var made famous by the Venet workshop; the blogger was embarrassed to take a long train of family with her.Second time over,with pressure from all sides,she gave in and cautioned the Venets that we were accompanied by many kids!
    The Var is where the Mistral winds builds up and spews it's anger all over the Cote d'Azur.When we reached our destination,the wind had started,while we took shelter in the hangar-type atelier of the creative artist.Gigantic examples of his work were all the over place.The children could not resist climbing all over the monstrous curves and jotting beams.One day they will realize that their innocent feet had trampled over art that is exhibited all over the city squares of the world.
    We were met by a tall man around 70 years old with a baby face and shaggy hair.His charming wife with deep blue eyes exaggerated by her tan,was a welcoming hostess.We were sent to tour the grounds of the property inundated with Venet's works of art.The region had suffered serious floods in the early summer,and the outdoors were not spared.
    At the end of the visit,Venet took the men on the side and promised us to share a treasure with him!Et voilà ,Venet with an impish smile,unraveled his macho Buggatti one million dollar batman machine.He spoke about it with great passion,and looked forward to drive it to Monaco,when he visits the week after.
    That was the closest you can get to a living world artist,an experience to be etched in our memories!