The American artist Fred Sandback (1943–2003) worked with elastic cord and acrylic yarn to delineate or bifurcate three-dimensional space, creating room-filling volumetric forms using the most minimal of means. By stretching single strands of yarn point-to-point to create geometric figures, Sandback’s near intangible objects nevertheless amounted to precise and subtle delineations of pictorial planes and architectural volumes. Despite this relationship to the built environment and to the practice of drawing, he became known primarily as a Minimalist sculptor, alongside such contemporaries as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Carl Andre, but Sandback was also a forerunner of and a major influence on many of today’s installation artists. Contrary to his own matter-of-fact artistic statements about his practice, his work has been said to conjure up references to architecture, painting, sculpture and even music, given his early fascination for stringed musical instruments.
Born in Bronxville, New York in 1943, he attended Yale as an undergraduate, studying philosophy and sculpture (BA, 1966), and as a graduate student in art (MFA, 1969). His first solo gallery shows were in Germany in 1968, at Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, and Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich. His first solo museum exhibitions took place in Europe at Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, in 1969, and at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1973. His first exhibition in London was with Lisson Gallery in 1977 and his inaugural large-scale solo show in the US was at New York’s PS 1 in 1978. Solo exhibitions of his work include: ‘Fred Sandback: A Drawing Retrospective’, organised by the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2014); ‘When Attitudes Became Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013’ at Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2011), Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein (2005). Sandback’s work is on permanent display at Dia:Beacon, NY, USA.