Fred Sandback - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Estate of Fred Sandback
    Zwirner & Wirth, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    P.M. Lee, Fred Sandback, exh. cat., Zwirner & Wirth, New York, 2007, plate 21 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "There’s only a certain amount of control that you can have over a situation. I’m interested in working in that area in which the mind can no longer hold on to things. The point at which all ideas fall apart."
    Fred Sandback

    Fred Sandback discarded painterly materiality to find the voluminous density of space through very spare and simple means. With acrylic yarn as his only weapon, Sandback has vertically, horizontally and diagonally created and divided up pictorial space. Finding himself frustrated with the conventions of the painting medium, he came to reject what he referred to as “all this excess baggage, all this gestural absurdity, all these decorative precocities in composition.” He turned to his friend sculptor George Sugarman for advice, who aptly replied, “Listen, if you’ve really had enough of all this, you only have to go out and buy a ball of string.” The present lot illustrates that Sandback followed the sculptor’s advice. Other minimalist artists had earlier employed similar techniques, most famously in Sol LeWitt’s use of string to map out and define his compositions, which also conflated the categories of painting and sculpture.

    The simple turquoise and pink lines of Untitled (Sculptural Study, Five-Part Vertical Construction) echo off each other like music chords, Sandback explains that this color process is anything but calculated, pointing out that “the colors kind of built and played off each other in a way that doesn’t have to do with anybody’s notion of color theory. There’s no this way or that way to it, but it’s very intentional. You’ve got to get the color just right and you push and you pull and you play with it and something hops out at you, and you find another color.” (Fred Sandback, 2002)

    Utilizing only color and line, Sandback has re-defined the boundaries of sculpture and the illusion of space. Doors, picture windows, and casement windows are implied, as if some elemental perspective system is being invented anew. By extracting the presence of material substance, Sandback allows the space his sculptures inhabit to become a temporal embodiment of its own provisional illusionism. The clear and definite instructions for the installation of his work become an essential component to his practice, allowing his sculptures to live a full life of non-site specificity. The present lot simultaneously delineates and merges into its environment. In this way, the work and its relation to place and the conditions of beholding are constantly expanding. As the artist has commented, “if I take this sculpture and if I put it in your house, with the same dimensions, firstly there is a different situation, it’s your house, it’s that moment there, the time of year will be different, the audience will be different. . . . (Fred Sandback, 1992)

  • Artist Biography

    Fred Sandback

    American • 1943 - 2003

    There is more than meets the eye with the work of Fred Sandback. Employing a particularly unique material, acrylic yarn, the artist created architectural works by attaching yarn to surfaces and stretching it taut from floor to ceiling. The open space and surprising dimensions achieved by his pieces allow viewers to interact with them and complete them with their own imagination.

    By studying alongside such fellow Minimalists as Robert Morris and Donald Judd, Sandback developed the conceptual, uncluttered method for which he is known.

    View More Works

Property from a Distinguished New York Collection


Untitled (Sculptural Study, Five-part Vertical Construction)

ca. 1986/2006
turquoise and pink acrylic yarn
dimensions vary with each installation
This work is unique and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity provided by the Estate, registered under Fred Sandback Estate Number 2327.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm