Sandback developed his signature line sculptures in the late 1960s, and for over three decades manipulated space using yarn as his tool. Though his work is often associated with Minimalism's purity of form and geometry, the artist stressed that his use of line was "a consequence of wanting the volume of a sculpture without the opaque mass," not a means to create a rectilinear motif. He considered his drawings "a kind of preliminary notion, suggestions of possible ways of building or proportioning things." Though 16 Variations of 2 Horizontal Lines exemplifies Sandback's reliance on a system, he maintained that while a "substructure may be used many times, it appears each time in a new light."
Gallery label from Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, April 22, 2009–January 4, 1010.