new-york

Bernar Venet

Robert Miller Gallery

In 1973, Bernar Venet wrote an essay in which he disclaimed any connection with “Duchampian style or Nouveau Réalisme” and instead connected his art to the theory of French semiologist Jacques Bertin, which grouped signs into three categories. The first set of signs, called the pansemic, were associated with music and nonfigurative imagery in art; the second, the polysemic, with words and figurative imagery; and the third, the monosemic, with mathematics and graphic imagery. For Venet, there was an overabundance of nonfigurative and figurative imagery in the visual arts. Indeed, he thought that they had been done to death, and that the only way to rescue art from itself, from entropic redundancy, was by basing it on the mathematical graph—which for Bertin was the only true monosemic image. It is a completely rational model, Venet wrote, arguing that art must become “solely a place of

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