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Pulitzer curator discusses yarn and the sculpture of Fred Sandback as exhibit nears end

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s first exhibition since its reopening comes to an end this week. The exhibit highlights three artists including Fred Sandback whose yarn sculpture appears in one of the building’s new gallery spaces.

The piece stands out from the other work on display because Pulitzer staff rearranges the sculpture each week. This week Sandback’s piece “Sixty Four Three-Part Pieces,” enters its final Pulitzer iteration.

Here are seven facts you might not know about Sandback and his piece “Sixty Four Three-Part Pieces.” Excerpted quotes taken from an interview with Pulitzer curator Tamara Schenkenberg.

  • “The first time Sandback’s work showed here was in 1969.” Sandback was part of the Here and Now exhibit held in 1969 at the Washington University Gallery of Art (now Kemper Art Museum). He showed along major artists Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman.
  • Although Sandback built his career on various yarn-based sculptures. The artist began displaying sculpture as early as the late 1960s but didn’t develop his yarn work until the mid-1970s “which became his signature material from there on out.”
  • Although his installation instructions are incredibly detailed, the actual yarn that can be used in “Sixty Four Three-Part Pieces” could be purchased at craft stores like JoAnne Fabrics.
  • Sandback had a significant career in Europe, especially Germany, due to the European embrace of his conceptual and minimalist style.
  • While popularity grew for minimalist sculptures that relied heavily on large-scale materials like iron beams or large chunks of rock, Sandback focused on yarn for its more accessible and delicate qualities. “He had this ardent belief that art should not be separated from the space of everyday life.”
    Tamara Schenkenberg, Curator of Fred Sandbeck's “Sixty Four Three-Part Pieces”
    Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
    Tamara Schenkenberg, Curator of Fred Sandbeck's “Sixty Four Three-Part Pieces”
  • Art contemporaries of Sandback and historians discussed seeming contradiction between Sandback’s tall and imposing physical appearance and his reliance on subtle, impermanent, materials. “There’s this disconnect between his ‘barely there’ sculpture and his physicality.”
  • The Fred Sandback Museum in Winchendon, Mass., has existed since 1996.

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