Fred Sandback

The surprising and dramatic retention of illusion in an art of extreme reduction is maybe best seen in the installations of Fred Sandback. Viewers routinely report the impression of a pane of glass stretched between his strings of yarn.

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Fred Sandback, Heiner Friedrich Gallery, Munich 1977

Sandback himself dismissed this as irrelevant to his intentions and to the nature of his work, and I’m sure many experts on the period would do likewise. The artist can be excused for wanting to limit the reception of his work, but the critic just defends abstract notions in the face of experience. Sandback’s work is not the ultimate reduction of sculpture, but what interests me is how “optical” it is, even though it has no prior connection with painting. Perhaps Greenberg, in his article “Sculpture in our Time,” was right, sculpture did become more phenomenal, less “real.” Or is this kind of illusion an aspect of the grid?

Zwirner & Wirth

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