Monday, November 22, 2010

Fred Sandback (+ more on Juan Muñoz)

Fred Sandback at Dia Chelsea, 1996. Photo: Dia Art Foundation.

On Friday, I wrote about one of the two sculpture shows I saw together with my former art history professor, Dag Sveen, at Dia Chelsea in 1996. Among all the different shows we saw that day, neither of us remember more than these two: Fred Sandback and Juan Muñoz (see Friday's post). - That may say something about the quality of their work, don't you think?

It's not easy to find photos of works that were shown 14 years ago. But the one above is from that very Sandback show at Dia.

As far as I remember, the yarn he had used in those sculptures was red, and it was put up in vertical rectangles without any perceptible attachment to the ceiling.

It was fascinating to walk around those shapes that were so modest, and still feel so strongly affected by their presence. I felt required to respect the shape they outlined. Crossing the horizontal line that was attached to the floor seemed impossible...

Fred Sandback at David Swirner, 2009.

It is a general defining feature in sculptures that they have a certain volume, but in Sandback's sculptures volume is perceived almost only indirectly, as the shape they outline.

Fred Sandback at David Swirner, 2009.

In this photo, you can see how the string seems to have grown quietly out from the ceiling. And even though they are made from string, the sculptures look surprisingly solid, almost like wall panels dividing the gallery space.


Juan Muñoz, "Five Seated Figures", 1996. Photo from: The City Review.

Right after I had written about Muñoz' "A Place Called Abroad" on Friday, I went to an opening where I ran into Dag. So we talked some more about that show, and he reminded me of the slightly-less-than-human scale Muñoz has given his figures. This is crucial to their double appearance, - as both familiar and foreign. If you merely give them a fleeting glance, they seem quite vivid and familiar. But if you look more closely, you notice their slightly washed out features and puppet-like limbs.

(The photo above is taken in Sotheby's New York exhibition space. This group of sculptures with mirror was sold at Sotheby's on November 11, 2009 for $1,202,500.)

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