Fred Sandback. Untitled. 1967

Fred Sandback Untitled 1967

  • Not on view

Sandback was one of many artists who came of age in the 1960s owning a copy of Cage’s first book, Silence (1961). While the title refers to the musical composition 4’33”, the book is a far–reaching compendium of Cage’s lectures and writings, with only fleeting reference to scores or actual performances. It repeatedly notes how chance and structure play intimate roles in our perception of the world in general. Sandback was engaged by this duality:

The inherent mysticism resides in persisting in wanting to make something as factual as possible and having it turn out just the other way—the immediate positive engagement with the way situations always transcend our perceptions of them—the realization that the simplest and most comfortable of perceptions are shadows.

Sandback explored what he termed “pedestrian space” by inserting simple constructions of cord or yarn to frame architectural environments. These taut planes and linear interventions are anchored by the structure of the gallery in which they are installed, but the artist’s sculptures imply, rather than delineate, form through the interactive experience of the artwork.

Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.
Painted elastic rayon cord and metal sleeve clamps
69" x 14' x 24" (175.2 x 426.7 x 60.9 cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
© 2021 Fred Sandback Archive
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].