The Lunchtime Tourist

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May 19, 2003 // UPDATED 10:50 am - April 30, 2007
By: determined Line,' by Bernar Venet
determined Line,' by Bernar Venet

Lobby of the AT&T Building, 901 Marquette Ave.

Sometime when you\'re gazing out that office window lost in another world, straighten out a paper clip, then wrap it around a pencil. You\'ve just made a desk model of the sculpture in the AT&T Building.

While making the model might have been easy, fabricating \"Undetermined Line\" was a feat of fine metal-working executed by internationally known French artist Bernar Venet.

Born in 1941 in the Alps of Haute-Provence, France, Venet suffered with asthma and was forced to spend great amounts of time recuperating. A local artist encouraged him to draw and by the time he was 11, he was invited to exhibit in a Parisian salon.

After spending one year studying at the municipal art school, Venet worked as a stage designer for the Nice Opera. He joined the French army in the early 1960s and converted a military building\'s attic into a studio where he began experimenting with conceptual art and paintings covered with tar. Venet\'s work was exhibited in 1968 in Dsseldorf, Germany with the iconoclastic performance artist Joseph Beuys.

The lure of New York City attracted Venet in the late 1970s, and he\'s lived off and on at the Chelsea Hotel and in studios in all the artsy neighborhoods. His interest in science and math led to works using blueprinted diagrams, plotted arcs and collaborations with scientists.

In the early 1980s Venet began his \"Indeterminate Lines\" series. Twelve of the sculptures were installed on a boulevard in front of the Eiffel Tower. When Jacques Chirac was the mayor of Paris, he awarded the artist the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Venet\'s work is in collections around the world, from the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim in New York to the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Bring your paper-clip model to the AT&T Building and you\'ll better appreciate the gentle curves in this monumental piece of ironwork that has the delicacy of a fine line drawing.

LUNCH TIP: Spend your lunch hour surrounded by carved jade, porcelain vases, and cloisonn at Leann Chin in the adjacent lobby of International Center.

Send your comments to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.