David Zwirner and Zwirner & Wirth will present the work of American artist Fred Sandback (1943-2003) in two concurrent exhibitions.

Sandback’s sculptures outline planes and volumes in space. Though he employed metal wire and elastic cord early in his career, the artist soon dispensed with mass and weight by using acrylic yarn to create works that address their physical surroundings, the “pedestrian space,” as Sandback called it, of everyday life. By stretching lengths of yarn horizontally, vertically, or diagonally at different scales and in varied configurations, the artist developed a singular body of work that elaborated on the phenomenological experience of space and volume with unwavering consistency and ingenuity.

The exhibitions will examine the broad scope of formal invention that the artist achieved within a defined idiom. The works on view will range from smaller-scale, metal and cord works from the late 1960s to constructions from the 1980s and 1990s that encompass entire rooms, thus demonstrating the artist’s signature vocabulary of forms in varied combinations and at different scales.

The exhibition at David Zwirner will include a work from 1969, one of a series of sculptural variations originally planned for installation at the Heiner Friedrich Gallery in Munich (where the artist had one of his earliest solo exhibitions in 1968). Here, Sandback has outlined three rectangular planes that appear to lean against three parallel walls, thus displacing the viewer’s perceptions of the architectural surroundings. Also on view will be large-scale, vertical screen-like works, exhibited here for the first time. They include a sculpture from 1985 comprised of twenty-seven parallel lengths of white and yellow yarn that extend from the floor to the ceiling near a wall, forming a shallow relief of subtle chromatic variation. The exhibition at David Zwirner will also present sculptures constructed from U-shaped “planes” that traverse the exhibition space in alternating formations, among them the 1977 untitled six-part construction in black acrylic yarn illustrated above.

At Zwirner & Wirth, a selection of smaller-scale works will be on view, including examples of Sandback’s earliest sculptures, such as Untitled (Grey Corner Construction), 1968, a rectangular composition that appears to extend out from the corner and references the work of Russian constructivist Vladimir Tatlin, whose “corner constructions” of 1915–16 projected the work of art into the real space of the viewer. Also included is a work from 1969 in which lengths of braided stainless steel wire form a horizontal sequence of five subtly-reflective squares, mounted flat against the wall; and Untitled (Eight-part Vertical Construction), 1992, a composition of black, gray, white, and red lengths of yarn stretched vertically between floor and ceiling in perpendicular and parallel configurations that relate to the surrounding walls of the gallery.

On the occasion of the concurrent exhibitions, the gallery will publish an illustrated monograph on Sandback’s work in collaboration with Steidl, Germany. The publication will include over fifty color plates and new scholarship on the artist by philosopher and art historian John Rajchman.


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, 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). His 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.

For further information, please contact Zwirner & Wirth at 212.517.8677

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Six-part Construction) [Detail], 1977/2008. Black acrylic yarn. Dimensions vary with each installation.

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Two-part Vertical Construction), 1986/2008. Black acrylic yarn. Dimensions vary with each installation.

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