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Fred Sandback, Untitled (Four-Part Vertical Construction in Two Colors), 1987, acrylic yarn. Installation view. © Fred Sandback Archive.

Fred Sandback

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

Fred Sandback, Untitled (Four-Part Vertical Construction in Two Colors), 1987, acrylic yarn. Installation view. © Fred Sandback Archive.

It’s hard to get through an article or even a conversation about Fred Sandback’s work without hearing it described as “drawing in space.” This is hardly surprising, given that for over three decades he used thin strands of acrylic yarn (and occasionally wire, string, or elastic cord) to create three-dimensional configurations composed from that most basic element of drawing: the line. Yet while the notion of drawing in space had already featured prominently in Clement Greenberg’s writing about midcentury expressionist sculpture, Sandback’s drawing is hardly so subjective; his lines look less like traces of the artist’s hand than like vectors laid out with a parallel rule or a T square. Indeed, although the description is much less poetic, Sandback’s work might be more accurately characterized as “drafting in space.”

This shift in terminology highlights a paradox implicit in Sandback’s

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