GUIDE DE LA DEFENSE

Venet’s crazy lines: a bit of chaos in a vertical world

Among the perfect towers and the black suit salary men, in the middle of the way, lies an interesting chaos of intertwined metal beams. Doubles Lignes Indéterminées exists in the utopian business district of La Défense just like a naked blond springbreaker would in a cardinal’s conclave. It is the best way to see, in a glimpse, what starck contrast means.

Born in 1941, Bernar Venet started working with opera decors. In the legacy of Marcel Duchamp, as a traditional 20th century artist, he believes more in the process than in the piece itself, and will get his first claims of fame with pristine black tar decors. Following Duchamp’s urinal, he considers that everything is art, including shapeless piles of coal. Even Duchamp will be shocked…

Later on, after having moved to the US, he starts flirting with rusted metal beams, creating huge abstract stuctures that invade the space. Chaotic yet architectural, these pieces are the perfect symbol of the art paradigm of the second half of the past century: one concept, a lot of provokation, a certain void of explanations that can be filled with some mathematical approach of things. More precisely here, of lines. Bernar Venet reinvented the chaotic line.

And the world wants his lignes indéterminées. Any art collection must owe one, which is why a complete 20th century art museum like la Défense must have it own. That will be done in 1988.

Bernar Venet is still considered one of the masters of art, and a huge exhibition of his rusty gigantic structures in Versailles in 2011 proves the level of recognition he gets from the academy. History might not retain him as such, but his place in 20th century art history dead-ends is not negociable  and Doubles Lignes Indéterminées, by reaction with its surroundings, might offer Venet a path of redemption through the contrast it generates, by chance.

Luckily, this piece is located 5 minutes walking from the Home in La Defense apartments, so meditation on art history and evolution is right around the corner.