Since the '60s when the "less is more" credo was enshrined, it's been been New Yorker Fred Sandback's calling card. Using garden variety yarn that was once florescent but is now softer, grandma's knitting hues, Sandback has stretched taut, site-specific string geometries across every major international museum and gallery.
By fixing lengths of yarn to floors, ceilings or walls, Sandback inscribes hard-edge volumes in space. He enlivens the site by using the straight edge of a wall or room corners to demark shapes made not of pigment or bronze but rather of empty space.
Sandback was dubbed a Minimalist because he uses unlikely media of twine and space to force us to take heed of our environment. This installation is particularly apt. Thick, low slung gallery walls and pillars seem to be laid even barer by their interaction with Sandback's tensile plumbs of string. The massive concrete gallery structure takes on a strange airborne feel. Further, it's hard to tell the thin yarn from the strategic shadows it casts, so you move cautiously and alertly, as if through some enchanted--or booby trapped--terrain.
Flowing through spare shapes in space, we become acutely aware of angles, scale, vectors of force, gravity and all the other formal and expressive dimensions of architecture that under usual circumstances we breeze through and miss. If you skim the surface of this installation, you're sure to feel ripped off ("my kid did that at camp last year"), but if you live with it awhile, you'll see that Sandback's paring down comes from an almost Gothic search for authenticity and hands-on craft. (Burnett Miller Gallery, 964 N. La Brea Ave., to March 25.)