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Venet Foundation Summer Exhibition - France

BY L'art en plus | 27-May-2016
James Turrell - Inspire the light: July - October 2016
Venue: Venet Foundation
Address: 365 chemin du Moulin des Serres / 83490 Le Muy / France
Date: July - October 2016
Web: http://www.venetfoundation.org
EMail: info@venetfoundation.org
The steel corridor of the factory
 © Serge Demailly, La Cadière-d’Azur Courtesy Archives Bernar Venet, New York


The Venet Foundation is featuring two works by the American artist James Turrell (*1943) as part of its summer exhibition. Turrell’s light appears thanks to concealed devices that the artist plans out and constructs with great precision. That light reproduces natural phenomena that the artist builds up and stages like a dramatist. Darkness, silence, and the presentation of a perceptual manifestation that is both inexplicable to the eye and beyond human understanding eventually lead to abandoning oneself to contemplation and confronting the sublime.

The first work by James Turrell to be featured this summer at the Foundation is called Elliptic, Ecliptic, and belongs to a series of skyspaces, buildings (in this case egg-shaped) in which viewers are invited to take a seat and observe the sky through a narrow space freed of all visual pollution and illuminated by a device that the artist conceals in the structure. Like Yves Klein, who sought to paint the sky, Turrell sculpts it in space and color by tinting its surroundings. The concentration within a confining space of the color blue, which runs from the lightest at the start of the day to the darkest at night, brings out its intensity and the immensity of the infinite. Freed from all context, the sky is an abstract monochrome that the viewer contemplates, a monochrome defined by its outlines but whose depth is unknown, even unexplainable. Elliptic, Ecliptic is a long-term installation at the Venet Foundation, like the Stella Chapel created by Frank Stella for the inauguration of the site in 2014.

As in Marfa, Texas (home in particular to the Chinati and Judd foundations), the Venet Foundation requires artwork to be displayed in ideal conditions. Everything here - the natural setting, the architecture, the way the works are installed or hung - is in the service of the artists. Described by Georges Didi-Huberman as a temple, Turrell’s skyspace stands in the Foundation’s sculpture park opposite the Stella Chapel. It underscores the tropism of contemporary artists to elaborate monuments with sacred connotations and place themselves within a secular history the substance of which they retain while rewriting the codes.

The second work by Turrell, Prana, is on view in the Venet Foundation’s Contemporary Gallery, which was designed by Berthier and Llamata. The piece consists of a space that is hermetically sealed off from all exterior light. At the end of this space can be seen a red rectangle that actually conceals its exact nature. What seems to be an object painted in a pure pigment or a light projection of some sort proves to be, on close inspection, an opening (an aperture in Turrell’s terminology) onto a light reflection. Behind the frame cut into the wall, all notions of space melt away in a kind of abyss clouded by a flaming red hue that suggests the inside of a seething volcano. Prana, the piece’s title, comes from Sanskrit. The term is borrowed from Hinduism. According to the Upanishads, prana is a universal vital energy that suffuses everything and which living beings absorb through the air they breathe. In Turrell’s work, this energy appears suspended in the air thanks to a colored fog whose pulse dies away as the eye grows used to the room’s darkness. What remains after a few minutes is the source of the fog, the pure-colored rectangle that persists like an inexhaustible source.


Every year, this unique place of four hectares offers to visitors an original tour through a « total artwork » designed by one of the most famous artist in the world, Bernar Venet with his wife Diane.The foundation is at the same time an « exceptional mental studio » for Bernar Venet and an unique setting for the monumental works of the collection.

  • Diane and Bernar Venet’s collection of minimal and conceptual art (which includes works by Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Long, and others) , is one of the most important in the world
  • A sculpture park with artworks from Bernar Venet and from artists of the foundation’s collection
  • The Stella Chapel created on site by Frank Stella with six of the artist’s Large Reliefs from the early 2000s
  • Two exhibition spaces: the gallery with the summer exhibition, and the factory with Bernar Venet’s recent works
The 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Sculpture Center (New York) was given to Bernar Venet to celebrate his major sculptor’s career.

Practical informations

James Turrell - Inspire the light
July - October 2016

Visit on request only
Registration by email at info@venetfoundation.org

Venet Foundation
365 chemin du Moulin des Serres
83490 Le Muy - France