Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Do you like this story?
Artist: Sandback, Frederick Lane
Creation date: 1989
Materials: Tile-red acrylic yarn
Dimensions: 8.9 x 19.9 x 22.96 ft. (installed)
Location: J. Irwin & Xenia Miller Gallery
Credit line Purchased with funds provided by: Ann M. and Chris Stack
Copyright © Estate of Fred Sandback
Over the course of the last year or two, I have found myself making a point to head to the back corner of the contemporary floor into what I simply call the Fred Sandback room. A moderate sized room with parquet floors and a large floor to ceiling window that looks out on the massive wooded grounds that make up the future Virginia Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. The other Sandback's in the room, while interesting enough, hold little of the power that this particular work has. The economy of means and material to make such an impact is impressive. Simply a line of red yarn that dissects the room, from point a in the parquet floor to point b which pierces through a single point in the large glass window.
The poetry of the piece is what draws me back to this work with each visit to the museum. Something about how this red line draws the eye up and out that window, inviting me to look out onto the world and the simple beauty just outside the museum seems to me telling. Could this work even exist in another museum, without destroying the power it has in its current incarnation? I have my doubts. I must admit that my love of this work was not immediate, though my first encounter with it I found myself intrigued. With each continued visit to the museum, when passing by other works with out much ado, I would make a point to visit this work and really look at it, walk around the room to view it from multiple angles, attempt to experience the work. Slowly but surely it has risen towards the top of my list. Do I like it more than the current incarnation of the Adrian Schiess work, which play on similar themes and elements as the Sandback? I would have to say that is a close one to call in my book, I love them both. Does it hold up to or surpass the James Turrell or the Kara Walker? I would have to say it indeed holds its own in my eyes, but may be overlooked by most. Perhaps it is best to say that this untitled Fred Sandback is the sleeper hit of the IMA's contemporary collection. I would suggest that if you have not seen it in awhile, do not remember it, or have dismissed it in the past, next time you are at the IMA, give it another chance. Perhaps, with time, you too will have grown to enjoy it as much as I have.
Special thanks to Katie Zarich and the IMA photography staff for supplying these images, as this work has to be the hardest work ever to photograph properly. Damn near impossible in my opinion. All the more reason to go and see the work in person.