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Around Town : Tara Donovan

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This year for my birthday, my fabulous boyfriend (who just so happens to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things contemporary art) took me on a tour of his favorite galleries in Chelsea. After what has felt like the longest, coldest, darkest, and snowiest winter on record, he knew I was in much need of a good dose of artistic (and crafting) inspiration to raise my spirits.

While on our little adventure, I was particularly inspired by a collection of works done by Brooklyn artist Tara Donovan, being shown at The Pace Gallery on West 25th Street. At first glance, these "drawings" seemed to be simple canvases covered with gradient fields of light and dark or simple circles done in white and gray. However, when I got a closer look, I was completely blown away. Each piece is a large square (up to 8 feet by 8 feet) of gatorboard (like foam board but covered on both sides with wood veneer) that has been painted white and then "drawn" on by meticulously pounding in what must be thousands and thousands of nickel-plated steel pins!

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1 of 11
Drawings (Pins), 2010

1 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

2 Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

3 Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

4 Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

Drawings (Pins), 2010

5 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010

6 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

7 Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

Drawings (Pins), 2010

8 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010

9 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010

10 Drawings (Pins), 2010

Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

11 Drawings (Pins), 2010 (detail)

After being blown away by the show, I did a simple Google search of Ms. Donovan and was delighted to discover an entire body of similarly inspiring, spectacular work. I absolutely love the way she uses a single everyday material in each of her pieces (many being materials that I encounter every day in the TV craft room) to create sweeping and monumental works of true art. I also discovered (and completely understand why) she employs a virtual army of studio assistants (10-15) who help her meticulously create these incredibly detailed (and obviously time consuming) masterpieces. Check out the gallery below for a collection of photos of some of my favorites:

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1 of 29
Colony, 2009

1 Colony, 2009

Colony, 2009 (detail) - Made from pencils!

2 Colony, 2009 (detail) - Made from pencils!

Bluffs, 2009

3 Bluffs, 2009

Bluffs, 2009

4 Bluffs, 2009

Bluffs, 2009

5 Bluffs, 2009

Bluffs, 2009 (detail) - Made from buttons and glue!

6 Bluffs, 2009 (detail) - Made from buttons and glue!

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006

7 Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006

8 Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

9 Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

10 Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

11 Untitled (Plastic Cups), 2006 (detail)

Untitled (Pins), 2004

12 Untitled (Pins), 2004

Untitled (Pins), 2004 (detail)

13 Untitled (Pins), 2004 (detail)

Untitled (Toothpicks), 2001

14 Untitled (Toothpicks), 2001

Untitled (Molecule), 2010

15 Untitled (Molecule), 2010

Untitled (Mylar), 2007

16 Untitled (Mylar), 2007

Untitled (Mylar), 2007 (detail)

17 Untitled (Mylar), 2007 (detail)

Untitled (Mylar), 2007

18 Untitled (Mylar), 2007

Untitled (Mylar), 2007

19 Untitled (Mylar), 2007

Untitled (Mylar), 2007 (detail)

20 Untitled (Mylar), 2007 (detail)

Untitled (Paper Plates), 2006

21 Untitled (Paper Plates), 2006

Untitled (Paper Plates), 2006 (detail)

22 Untitled (Paper Plates), 2006 (detail)

Haze, 2003

23 Haze, 2003

Haze, 2003

24 Haze, 2003

Haze, 2003 (detail) - Made from stacked drinking straws!

25 Haze, 2003 (detail) - Made from stacked drinking straws!

Untitled, 2003

26 Untitled, 2003

Untitled, 2003 (detail) - Made from styrofoam cups and hot glue!

27 Untitled, 2003 (detail) - Made from styrofoam cups and hot glue!

Untitled, 2003

28 Untitled, 2003

Untitled, 2003 (detail) - Made from fishing line!

29 Untitled, 2003 (detail) - Made from fishing line!

I encourage you to check out Tara Donovan: Drawings (Pins) at The Pace Gallery (where it is on view until March 19) as well as her Untitled (Mylar) show that just opened there on March 4 (Ace Gallery in Los Angeles and Stephen Friedman Gallery in London are two other spaces that feature and represent her work). And the next time you find yourself in NYC, head over to the west 20s and check out the incredible work that is on display and completely free to public viewing. You wouldn't want to miss one of the best (and cheapest!) art experiences in the city.

Comments (7)

  • Wow, now THAT is creativity!

  • Absolutely amazing work! Thank you for sharing.

  • Those are incredibly beautiful! I wish I could get to the city before March 19, but I will definitely keep an eye out for more work from Ms. Donovan! Thank you for posting this!

  • those are awesome!

  • Tara has been one of my absolute favorite artists for a few years now. Thanks for sharing the pin work-I haven't seen that yet.

  • [...] 3.Tara Donovan makes art pieces by pounding small nails into a board. Search her name in google and find sculptures made using simple glue and buttons. [...]

  • This collection of artworks is impressive. Her use of conventional materials makes her works unique and refreshing to the eyes. Hopefully, I'll be able to visit her gallery. Thanks for posting this.

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