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Fred Sandback’s Sculpture

Stretching lengths of yarn across interior spaces, American artist Fred Sandback (1943–2003) created expansive works that underscore the physical presence of the viewer. This book, the first major study of Sandback, explores the full range of his art, which not only disrupts traditional conceptions of material presence, but also stages an ethics of interaction between object and observer.

Drawing on Sandback’s substantial archive, Edward A. Vazquez demonstrates that the artist’s work—with all its physical slightness and attentiveness to place, as well as its relationship to minimal and conceptual art of the 1960s—creates a link between viewers and space that is best understood as sculptural even as it almost surpasses physical form. At the same time, the economy of Sandback’s site-determined practice draws viewers’ focus to their connection to space and others sharing it. As Vazquez shows, Sandback’s art aims for nothing less than a total recalibration of the senses, as the spectator is caught on neither one side nor the other of an object or space, but powerfully within it.

240 pages | 30 color plates, 46 halftones | 8 1/2 x 10 | © 2017

Art: American Art, Art Criticism, Art--General Studies


“Vazquez offers a richly nuanced analysis. . . . One of this volume’s real strengths is that it is written from a place of engagement: Vazquez takes on the ever-expanding theoretical terrain of minimalism and postminimalism, but at all times he foregrounds the immediate embodied and situational terms of Sandback’s sculpture. . . .Recommended.”


"Aspects: Fred Sandback's Sculpture offers by far the fullest and most illuminating analysis we have of Fred Sandback's spare and subtly experimental work. It gives the reader a new awareness of his sculpture’s fascinating capacity to reconfigure space in suggestive but also intangible ways through the finely calculated placement of a few lines of thread. It also offers important insights into how this almost weightless, linear sculpture differs from drawing as conventionally understood, and as practiced by Sandback himself. Vazquez's very compelling study of the subtleties and complexities of Sandback's work succeeds in situating the artist as one of the leading figures in the radical redefinition of the nature of sculpture that took place in the 1960s and 1970s."

Alex Potts, author of The Sculptural Imagination

"Aspects is a closely observed, phenomenologically oriented account of Sandback's work that also places it in close and carefully considered dialogue with a considerable range of relevant critical and artistic work and that keeps its key terms in continuous, concrete contact with the work being explored. The result is impressive."

Stephen Melville, coauthor of Writing Art History

"Vazquez’s academically written volume, Aspects: Fred Sandback’s Sculpture, is an erudite examination of an artist almost wholly identified by spare installations of yarn pulled tight between the floor and ceiling, wall to wall, or between wall and floor... Throughout his book, Vazquez supplies the reader with creative close readings of artworks, abundant archival sources, and meaningful theoretical and art-critical texts from across the long twentieth century."

Miguel de Baca | Art Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction | Placing the Object
Chapter One | “Notes” on Objects, Environments, and Actualities
Chapter Two | Space Dawning: Artists’ Books and Sculptural Variations
Chapter Three | Seeing Through
Chapter Four | Dissolving the Object
Coda | Beacon’s Shadows

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