Fred Sandback - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Estate of Fred Sandback, New York
    Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Exhibited

    Zurich, Annemarie Verna Galerie, Fred Sandback, 12 September-6 October 1996
    Cambridge, Kettle's Yard, Fred Sandback, 7 May-26 June 2005

  • Literature

    Fred Sandback, exh. cat., Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, 2005, p. 29 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Often producing a piece from the very yarn he kept in his pocket, it was as if Fred Sandback produced art out of thin air. Beguilingly simple while simultaneously alien, his string structures continue to command optical, physical and perceptual interaction with their audiences. After majoring in philosophy at Yale in 1966, Sandback pursued an MFA at the Yale School of Art. Drawing on memories of his antique dealer uncle weaving cane chairs, Sandback strung banjos and dulcimers in his free time – at one point even considering creating a career out of the pastime. His fascination with string and cord amused his teachers, enthralling one in particular, Donald Judd. Sandback produced his first definitive string structure in 1966, transforming his hobby into the seminal theme of his mature work. From 1966 to 2003, the year he died, the artist would use thread to describe a potentially limitless volume, usually hidden inside traditional sculptures, now only subjected to the angles from which one could view his creations.

    Through Untitled (Triangle) the artist is producing a space, rather than simply existing in what is already there. Three threads intersect to create a visual experience, confounding both one’s preconceptions of sculpture as a medium and one’s own perceptions of space. Mass and weight have been dispersed through the use of ultra-light-weight acrylic yarn pulled taut, reaching diagonally from wall-to-wall. Sandback preferred it over other similar materials, such as wire, because its softness defied a strict rigidity of shape, and its matte surface absorbed rather than reflected light. All that exists are these threads, dematerialised lines of colour, defining the perimeters of a new space. Sometimes, ephemeral shadows assist the work, either adding or further delineating the created space. Sandback highlighted the ambulatory experience of his work; namely, his desire for viewers to coexist within this newly created space – whether that be by walking around, beside or through it. To participate is to step into a new spatial plane and an illusion of another reality. This involvement within the work engenders something akin to a phenomenological experience, forcing the audience to question themselves on how they inhabit and define the space around them. Untitled (Triangle) exists between the borders of Minimal and Conceptual art. Its physical presence may not be monumental, but the constant interpretations of the work lend it an impressive largeness in life.

  • 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.

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Untitled (Triangle)

light brown acrylic yarn
297.2 x 292.1 x 297.2 cm (117 x 115 x 117 in.)
This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity issued by the Estate of Fred Sandback and is registered in the artist's archive under number 2415.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016