Fred Sandback

Galerie Jurgen Becker

From the floor to the wall, from the ceiling to the floor, or along the wall the little material of Fred Sandback was stretched: yarn, steel rods, and occasionally elastic. Wherever spaces inspired, Sandback spun his threads in order to create lines and imaginary separations. It is always a two-or three-dimensional geometric figure that seizes the space. Sandback comments, “I’m always in a dialogue with an artificial environment that someone else has constructed.”

Over the past 25 years Sandback’s work has found its place in the history of sculpture. His thread marks the border between a world of sculpture freed from an interior life and the external space. Necessarily, the concepts of pedestal and mass, as well as the differentiation between sculptural and nonsculptural space are lacking in such an idea. Only a single strand announces a work’s beginning—or end. Inside and outside are dependent on the viewer’s position. Once Sandback compared his works to a “pedestrian space” in order to point toward their penetrability. Boundaries between the work of art and the viewer are removed, and the hierarchical relationship between subject and object disappears.

This lack of hierarchy has a decisive subsidiary effect. Sandback’s works are only perceptible as sculpture if one sees their origins in the history of 20th-century art. Without this knowledge their sculptural character disappears. The exhibition space takes on the dimension of a container inside which strings are strung that indicate lines and planes and offer an imaginary construction of the surrounding space. Despite their lack of structural function, they still remind us of supports and beams that connect and transfer the weight of the space. Seen in this way, Sandback’s room leaves one with the impression that a previously hidden structure has been revealed.

Wolf Jahn

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.