Gallerynote 1/2012

February 21 to April 21, 2012

Corner Constructions | Fred Sandback (Bronxville, New York 1943-2003),
built his sculptures in spaces that had come to him through the circumstances of his artistic work, spaces that had been put at his disposal. For a period of years, the Fred Sandback Museum in Winchendon offered a unique constellation of possibilities. This was a peculiar and remarkable institution, supported and financed by the Dia Art Foundation and housed in a building whose many different rooms had previously been dedicated to other purposes.

Sometimes the studio was the place for testing and defining simple works. In most cases, however, the architectural conditions and exhibition situations in galleries, museums and other arts venues – anything but perfect “White Cubes” – constituted the fixed parameters for the temporary installation of his works. Occasionally private home interiors prompted the artist to incorporate personal motives and references associated with the collectors. The normal proved to be the exceptional and Fred Sandback liked and collected these exceptionalities.

From the 1970s onwards, black, white and colored acrylic yarn in one or several strands was his preferred working material. It enabled subtle differentiation in the visibility of the sculptures, which appropriate the found locations or, at times, merely partial aspects of spaces.

The fact that Fred Sandback saw himself as a “sculptor” and his works as “sculptures” might be disconcerting but this assignation is highly elucidatory. Against the background of such terminology, it becomes clear what is present as a material and what is absent, along with the fact that emptiness and intermediary space possess a distinct capacity to be formed and shaped.

Despite its extreme economy, the acrylic yarn never disowns its physical properties and origins, with its slightly frayed texture recalling lines drawn with a soft pencil. It is compelling in its mode of appearance, its utilitarianism and its suitability.

In early works by Fred Sandback, the material-specific restrictions are sometimes outwitted and bypassed. Soon, however, the limited formal possibilities become a welcome and by no means peripheral condition in the development of the formal vocabulary. While the chosen definition of form characterizes a work, it only plays a supporting role and not the main role. Many aspects are situation-specific and situation-dependent. The sculpture is an intervention in a found architectonic space that thus becomes part of a whole. It does not seek to displace space with material, to degrade it into peripheral or presentational space. Marking a consistent and coherent presence, sometimes visible, sometimes practically invisible, the lines give rise to a specific place capable of revealing properties that were previously beyond perception, beyond experience.

Does this function to make the abstract potential of spatiality visible or concrete? Do these concise and precisely defined formulations mean the introduction of a perceptually conditioned level of aesthetic reflection leading to new differentiations and distinctions and probing the interconnections in a new way? Or does this experience result from the projection of the viewer, supplementing and constructing, continually shifting his viewpoint in the literal sense of the term and incorporating it in the perception of the work? In any event, the viewer cannot remove himself to the perspective of an external outpost, for he is involved through his physical presence as part of the action. The work’s form and reception are interrelated and mutually dependent.

Since 1971 the gallery has accompanied the work of Fred Sandback with twelve exhibitions.

Amy Baker Sandback has curated the current show with works from the estate.


Upcoming: Jerry Zeniuk at the
Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst Augsburger Glaspalast; May 2012

Rita McBride | Public Sculpture
Mae West, Effnerplatz München |

November 16, 2008 – 2033
Sol LeWitt
A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Yale University Art Gallery and Williams College Museum of Art