Fred Sandback: Decades. Works 1968-2000. David Zwirner Gallery, New York

The American artist Fred Sandback (1943 -2003) is best known for his Minimalist works made from lengths of yarn. By stretching them horizontally, vertically, or diagonally he worked with the space and created virtual shapes. Titled Decades, the exhibition at David Zwirner’s 519 West 19th Street space in New York City features a selection of important sculptures and drawings of Fred Sandback, spanning the years 1968 to 2000. On view are smaller-scale, early works in metal and cord from the 1960s; permutational works from the 1970s; reliefs and site-situational constructions from later in Sandback’s career; a selection of drawings and artist’s books; and a reconstruction of Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich.

Fred Sandback: Decades. Works 1968-2000. David Zwirner Gallery, New York. Opening reception, March 9, 2012. The exhibition runs until April 21, 2012.

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Press release:

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Fred Sandback (1943-2003). On view in the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street space, the exhibition will feature a selection of important sculptures and drawings spanning the years 1969 to 2000, representing each decade of the artist’s singular and influential career.

Though he used metal wire and elastic cord early in his career, Sandback soon dispensed with those materials to employ acrylic yarn to create works that address their physical surroundings. By stretching lengths of yarn horizontally, vertically, or diagonally at different scales and in varied configurations, the artist developed a unique body of work that elaborated on the phenomenological experience of space and volume with unwavering consistency and ingenuity.

On view will be several smaller-scale, early works in metal and cord from the 1960s; significant permutational works from the 1970s that change over time; reliefs and site-situational constructions from later in the artist’s career; and a selection of drawings and artist’s books, thus demonstrating the scope of formal and conceptual invention that the artist achieved within his defined idiom.

In keeping with the gallery’s program of recreating historic presentations of work by our artists, the exhibition will include a reconstruction of Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich, a space for which the artist designed many works in the 1960s and 1970s. Among the works on view will be a rare early sculpture executed in copper. Conceived by the artist with the Heiner Friedrich space in mind, Proposal for Heiner Friedrich, Munich, Six Rectangles, Copper Wire (Sculptural Study), 1969/2012 traverses three rooms with six rectangles that lean against each side of the gallery’s parallel walls.

The exhibition will include a number of drawings and sculptures by the artist that explore seriality and permutational schemes, among them 16 Variations of 2 Diagonal Lines, 1972, a significant large-scale work that changes over time. First shown at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich in 1973, the sculpture consists of two lengths of yellow acrylic yarn which are installed in a series of sixteen possible permutations (each of the last sixteen days of the exhibition will feature a different variation).

Among the more recent works to be included in the exhibition will be Untitled (Sculptural Study, Four- part Mikado Construction), 1991/2011, which belongs to a group of works inspired by the chance-generated game of Mikado, or “pick-up-sticks.” While many works from this series are presented flat against a wall, this three-dimensional construction is comprised of lengths of blue acrylic yarn suspended at non-intersecting angles in space.

Sandback’s 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, followed by an exhibition at Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1969, while the artist was still a graduate student pursuing his MFA at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. His work is on permanent display at Dia:Beacon, New York, and was the subject of an extensive survey exhibition 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, the artist’s work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, dedicated its entire building to a solo exhibition. Sandback’s work is represented in many public collections including the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; and The Art Institute of Chicago.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the gallery will publish a catalogue in collaboration with Steidl, Göttingen, which will feature new scholarship on the artist by art historian James Lawrence.