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David Zwirner presents a selection of works by American artist Fred Sandback
Installation view, Fred Sandback, David Zwirner, New York, April 1–May 21, 2022. Courtesy David Zwirner.

NEW YORK, NY.- David Zwirner is presenting a selection of works by American artist Fred Sandback that together highlight his wide-ranging formal vocabulary and treatment of space. The exhibition is on view at the gallery’s 34 East 69th Street location in New York, where the domestically scaled interior allows viewers an intimate engagement with a number of the artist’s signature formats.

Over the course of decades, Sandback developed a singular, minimal formal vocabulary that elaborated on the phenomenological experience of space and volume with unwavering consistency and ingenuity. He largely dispensed with mass and weight by using steel rod, elastic cord, and acrylic yarn to outline planes and volumes in space, creating an extensive body of works that inherently address their physical surroundings.

In his own words, Sandback described his sculpture as being “less of a thing-in-itself, more of a diffuse interface between myself, my environment, and others peopling that environment, built of thin lines that left enough room to move through and around. Still sculpture, though less dense, with an ambivalence between exterior and interior. A drawing that is habitable.”1

The works on view span the entirety of Sandback’s career. Among them are two rarely exhibited early constructions. Begun during his time at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, these sculptures mark the pivotal moment in Sandback’s use of line to delineate spatial volume. A cornered construction from 1968 made with lengths of elastic cord and steel coated in luminous blue paint utilizes a 90-degree corner, referencing the radical work of Russian constructivists such as Vladimir Tatlin, whose “corner reliefs” of 1915–16 projected the work of art into the real space of the viewer. Likewise, a low-lying four-part construction from 1971 makes use of painted steel rod.

The exhibition also features three vertical constructions, highlighting the artist’s multivalent use of that format, which he returned to in various configurations throughout his career. These include a six-part work from 1983 in red acrylic yarn that has been installed in the townhouse’s winding spiral staircase, extending dramatically through each of the building’s five stories in a seemingly infinite expansion. Additionally, another example features two strands of black yarn and two blue and white “looped” strands, causing the center of the sculpture to seem dematerialized as it extends to the floor.

A previously unseen work, Untitled (Sculptural Study, Points Determining a Random Folding of an Imaginary Plane) (c. 1977/2022), features five angled vertical planes that extend laterally across the gallery space in an undulating configuration.

Also on view is a selection of Sandback’s versatile drawings and prints that explore the range of his sculptural and spatial concerns in a variety of formats and techniques.

This is the seventh solo presentation of Sandback’s work at David Zwirner. The gallery’s first exhibition was on view at Zwirner & Wirth in 2004, then located in the adjacent building at 32 East 69th Street.

Fred Sandback’s (1943–2003) work has been exhibited internationally since the late 1960s. His first solo shows were held at Galerie Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, and Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich, both in 1968, while the artist was still a graduate student pursuing his MFA at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. Other early exhibitions of Sandback’s work were presented at Dwan Gallery, New York (1969); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (1969); Kunsthalle Bern (1973); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (1974); Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany (1975); Kunsthaus Zürich (1985); Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (1987); and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (1987).

Sandback became one of a small group of artists sponsored by Dia Art Foundation, which maintained an institution dedicated to his work—the Fred Sandback Museum—from 1981 until 1996. Not far from his studio in Rindge, New Hampshire, the museum was housed in a former bank building in Winchendon, Massachusetts.

His work was the subject of an extensive survey organized in 2005 by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, which traveled to the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, and the Neue Galerie am Joanneum, Graz, in 2006. In 2011, his work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. That same year, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, dedicated its entire building to a solo exhibition of his work. In 2014, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, hosted the first major retrospective of Sandback’s drawings, curated by Dieter Schwarz. This exhibition subsequently traveled to Germany to the Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop and Museum Wiesbaden. In 2015, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri, mounted an exhibition of Sandback’s work and the major retrospective Fred Sandback: Light, Space, Facts was on view at Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland. In 2016, sculptures by the artist were installed in buildings designed by Luis Barragán, Casa Luis Barragán, Casa Antonio Gálvez, Cuadra San Cristóbal, and Casa Gilardi in Mexico City. A solo exhibition of the artist’s work dating from 1967 to 1983 is on view at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, New Jersey. Fondation CAB in Brussels is currently presenting a solo exhibition, on view through June 25, 2022. A long-term installation of Sandback’s work, first installed in 2003, reopened at Dia:Beacon in December 2021.

Sandback’s work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fonds national d’art contemporain, Paris; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

David Zwirner has represented the Estate of Fred Sandback since 2004, previously presenting six solo exhibitions of the artist’s work, including a 2012 survey of important sculptures and drawings from each decade of his career in New York, a 2013 show at David Zwirner’s London location, and a 2016 presentation in New York entitled Fred Sandback: Vertical Constructions, which was accompanied by a catalogue published by David Zwirner Books with contributions by Yve-Alain Bois, David Gray, and Lisa Le Feuvre.

1 Fred Sandback, in Here and Now: Fred Sandback. Exh. bro. (Leeds, UK: Henry Moore Institute, 1999), n.p.

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