"The Point at Which All Ideas Fall Apart": Fred Sandback's Grand Illusions
There is a small catalogue that accompanied an exhibition of Fred Sandback's sculptures and drawings held in April 2004, almost a year after he died. The catalogue, published by the Upper East Side gallery Zwirner & Wirth, includes two pages of notes written by the artist in the 1970s, which read like a crash course in the paradoxes woven into his incorporeal realm of three-dimensional lines drawn in space:
"There's only a certain amount of control you can have over a situation. I'm interested in working in that area in which the mind can no longer hold on to things. The point at which all ideas fall apart. The inherent mysticism resides […] in wanting to make something as factual as possible and having it turn out just the other way […] the realization that the simplest and most comfortable of perceptions are shadows. A piece made with just a few lines at first appears very purist and geometrical. My work isn't either one of these things."
That last statement would seem, for anyone familiar with the artist's work, surprising to say the least, since Sandback (1943–2003) could be considered, and not without reason, as the purest and most unsparingly geometric member of a rigorously formalist generation, a cohort that included Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, and Sol LeWitt.