Pulitzer Reopening: 'Fred Sandback 64 Three-Part Pieces' Preview
In continuing anticipation of the Pulitzer’s reopening, we’re taking a look at what will be on display in the new galleries (check out an overview here and a preview of the Alexander Calder exhibit here). The renovated spaces at the Pulitzer are downstairs where former staff offices were, now equipped with dense bundles of cables for data and A/V. But something more simple is debuting downstairs Friday—at least in terms of tech.
For “Fred Sandback 64 Three-Part Pieces,” associate curator Tamera Schenkenberg has brought together Sandback’s permutative work. The work is divided into three sections: each in a different room constructed in the gallery. In each room, yarn in stretched in a certain pattern dictated by Sandback himself, who’s written out the 64 permutations in an instruction manual of sorts, defining the direction and orientation of how the yarn is placed in space. “He calls himself a sculptor, even though he does not work conventionally as a sculpture: He considers these three lines and the space together as a single work,” says Schenkenberg.
Contrary to the Calder exhibition upstairs, where viewers look upward, audiences look at or below eye level with Sandback’s, leading to a different experience of art and its interaction with space. “One of the reasons I was drawn to this piece is because … in a slight way, [its] changing how the body moves and responds in space,” says Schenkenberg.
The first time Sandback exhibited this piece was in 1975 Germany—and it hasn’t been shown since. At the Pulitzer, staff will change the permutations once a week, displaying his drawings alongside the piece. “You get a sense of movement and rhythm by installing the piece over the course, and movement in my mind is related back to the kinetic qualities of Calder and the sense that they have movement imbued in them,” says Schenkenberg. “As a curator, this is an unusual position that you’re choosing the work and installing it, but you’ve never installed it before. There’s something about his work that seems ephemeral.”
It’s yarn stretched across space, yes—and Schenkenberg is looking forward to see how visitors respond to it. “Sandback prefers to work with acrylic yarn versus wool because he said wool creates a line that’s too sharp, and there’s something about acrylic that has a more textured, fuzzy quality. He thought visually when you see it, it melts into space instead of being sharply different.”