“In no way is my work illusionistic. Illusionistic art refers you away from its factual existence toward something else. My work is full of illusions, but they don’t refer to anything. Fact and illusion are equivalents. Trying to weed one out in favor of the other is dealing with an incomplete situation.
Neither is my work environmental. It incorporates specific parts of the environment, but it’s always coexistent with that environment, as opposed to overwhelming or destroying that environment in favor of a different one. Environmental art more or less disregards the situation in which it finds itself.”
—Fred Sandback, first published in English and Italian in “Notes,” Flash Art, no. 40 (March-May 1973), p. 14; and https://www.fredsandbackarchive.org/texts-1973-notes
Krakow Witkin Gallery presents the first installation of Fred Sandback’s Untitled (Sculptural Study, Axis–Twelve Points, Six Axes, no.2), ca. 1974/2022. The work consists of six different iterations of a single length of blue acrylic yarn installed across a room, parallel to and 44 inches above the floor. Over the course of the exhibition, the work will be reinstalled to present all six axes. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Sandback explored seriality and permutational schemes with the work changing over the course of the exhibition according to a pre-determined plan. As with any three-dimensional work, viewers, moving around a sculpture by Sandback, become increasingly aware of what the work does in the space, to the space, and with the viewer. Sandback furthered this situation by including the element of time, not just the viewer’s movement, but the work, itself, varying. With the slightest physical material, Sandback provided an opportunity for close, open, and sensitive reading of place, space, and time, all solely achieved by adding lines of acrylic yarn.
“Nothing, from the diagram, could have prepared anyone for the actual effect of the piece realized in situ–nothing, that is, could have helped anyone fathom. . . that the vast transformations to which the space of the gallery was subjected were the result of such minimal manipulations. . . . Given the enormous imbalance between the minimal factual change in the space and the actual, perceptual effect, any attempt at understanding the formal structure of the piece produces not a reassuring synthesis but a kind of vertigo…”
—Yve-Alain Bois on Sandback’s 1974 16-variation work exhibited at John Weber Gallery, New York in Fred Sandback, Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, 2005.
Examples of these iterative sculptures were initially presented as solo exhibitions at Dwan Gallery, New York (1969 and 1970); Kunsthalle Bern (1973); Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich (1973); John Weber Gallery, New York (1974); Kunstraum, Munich (1975); and MoMA, New York (1978.). The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Seattle Art Museum,Washington; Dia Art Foundation, New York; and National Gallery of Canada each own examples from this notable group.