I think it’s pretty clear by now that I quite like a bit of visual confusion and that I have a bit of a soft spot for the large scale minimal sculpture made in particular by American artists in the 1960s and ’70s (and later), which means Fred Sandback is definitely right there on my like list (even if I do have a tendency to forget his name from time to time, possibly, for some weird reason, I don’t expect artists to be called Fred).
This is sculpture at its simplest. Sandback makes works that divide the space or rest against a wall. At first glance, it usually looks like there are large sheets of glass either creating barriers in the space or resting against the walls. but all is not as it seems..
Sandback’s work is made not of glass but of thread which is used to define the edges of something that isn’t there. The simplicity of this approach really appeals to me. The work looks almost monumental – glass on that scale would be heavy and difficult to handle – but in reality is little more than yarn and, in some cases, metal rods. Effectively, it’s sculpture made of nothing, or of the air in the space.
Though the work can be thought of as sculpture or as installation, effectively it can also be seen as three dimensional drawings that define the space that the work occupies by its absence. In a way the work is like a proposal drawing brought to life in the space. Clearly it would be possible to step through a work like but to do so would feel transgressive; I guess, for me at least, Sandback has defined the space of the sculpture and to walk through it would be to challenge the solidity of the work. I know it’s not there. I don’t need to test its absence.