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Tara Donovan

Drawings (Pins)

About Tara Donovan

Tara Donovan (b. 1969, New York) creates sculpture, drawings, prints, and large-scale installations that transform the banality of everyday objects into the extraordinary. Known for her commitment to process, she has earned acclaim for her ability to discover the inherent physical characteristics of an object and for her exploration into the nature of accumulation. Donovan’s many accolades include the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award (2008) and the first annual Calder Prize (2005), among others. She has been the subject of several major solo exhibitions at museums including the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2015); Milwaukee Art Museum (2012); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007), UCLA Hammer Museum (2004), and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1999). Donovan’s first European exhibition was presented in 2013 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, and traveled to the Arp Museum Bahnhof, Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany. In September of 2018, her work will be presented in the solo exhibition Tara Donovan: Fieldwork at Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Pace has represented Donovan since 2005.

Press Release

  • Tara Donovan: Drawings (Pins)
    The Pace Gallery will present an exhibition of new drawings by Tara Donovan at 510 West 25th Street from February 12 through March 19, 2011. The show will include more than twelve works ranging from 36 to 96" squared, and a diptych measuring 72 x 145" overall installed. A catalogue with an essay by Jonathan T. D. Neil, Executive Editor at The Drawing Center, New York, will accompany the exhibition. An opening reception will be held at the gallery on Friday, February 11th from 6-8 pm. Tara Donovan’s new drawings are at once a departure from her self-generating and site-conditional biomorphic abstractions and an important articulation of the perceptual concerns of her work. For the first time, Donovan determines a composition prior to the work’s creation and brings it into realization through mark-making within the self-defined parameters of a traditional picture plane. The optical effect—a visual field with shifting viewpoints—is central, underlining and expanding upon a concept that has defined much of the artist’s installation and sculptural work. In Neil’s catalogue essay he relates Donovan’s new work to psychologist James J. Gibson’s mid-twentieth century theories on the “ecological approach” to the study of vision. Rejecting the distinction between perception and sensation, Gibson introduced the environment as a central element, redefining vision as “an activity”—a negotiation of “movement and memory.” Donovan’s new drawings, Neil proposes, reposition perceptual experience (both literally and figuratively) at the forefront of visual concern in the digital era, “in a practice that has appeared until now largely materially driven and in the service of organic allusion.”…“we could say that nature is still at stake in these works, it is the nature of human perceptual experience, an experience that is undergoing a massive reshaping at present, all at the hands, or rather through the inhuman eye, of a screen.” While the majority of the drawings on view are visual fields that radiate from different light sources (determined by the density of pins on the surface area), two of the earliest works in the show depict clusters of circular organic shapes evoking cellular or molecular forms. The individual forms are reminiscent of the artist’s work with paper plates and more recently with mylar, including Untitled (Mylar), 2010, a major recent acquisition by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Donovan’s concept for the pin drawings evolved from the pin matrix that the artist created for relief prints produced by Pace Editions in the fall of 2010. The process the artist used to make the works in this exhibition is a reverse of her other drawings, such as those made with fractured glass, string, or rubber bands, on view at The Pace Gallery in Tara Donovan: New Drawings (2009) and Tara Donovan: Rubber Band Drawings (2006); Rather than using material as “the vehicle for making a drawing” through creating an impression, in the new drawings Donovan employs the material as the mark itself. The new drawings mark a return to studio practice following a series of major solo museum exhibitions and installations that responded to the architecture of each institution. These include Tara Donovan, a three year travelling retrospective organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (and accompanied by the artist’s first monograph, published by The Monacelli Press), 2008–2009, which traveled to the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati and Des Moines Art Center in 2009, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego through 2010. Other important recent exhibitions include Tara Donovan: Untitled, 2010, a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Tara Donovan, an installation at the Lever House, 2009, and Donovan at the Met, mounted in November of 2007 and extended for nearly a full year by popular demand. This show was the fourth in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s series dedicated to solo exhibitions of contemporary artists. Tara Donovan (b. 1969, Flushing, New York) received a B.F.A. from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, D.C. (1991) and an M.F.A. in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (1999). Donovan received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award in 2008. Her many accolades also include the first annual Calder Prize (granted by the Calder Foundation in 2005); the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Willard L. Metcalf Award (2004); National Academy Museum, Helen Foster Barnett Prize (2004); Women’s Caucus for Art, Presidential Award (2004); New York Foundation for the Arts grant recipient (2003); Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant recipient (2003); and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition (2001), among others. Donovan’s work was also selected for the 2000 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Tara Donovan’s work is held in numerous important public and private collections, including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; St. Louis Art Museum; Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Tara Donovan lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. For more information about Tara Donovan: Drawing (Pins), please contact the Public Relations department of The Pace Gallery at 212.421.8987. For general inquiries, please email; for reproduction requests, email


In the art world, Tara Donovan has become the belle of the banal. She employs everyday objects such as drinking straws, buttons or No. 2 pencils to create large-scale sculptures and prints that take on a life (and light) of their own. She allows the shape of the chosen material to determine the form of the piece until it becomes magically other (think vast moonscape in Styrofoam cups), managing to transcend both materiality and gimmickry in a culture that celebrates both. In her latest series, ‘

"Tara Donovan: Drawings (Pins)" at the Pace Gallery, 510 West 25th Street, opening February 11, 6-8 p.m., through March 19, Since being featured in the Whitney Biennial in 2000, Tara Donovan has become a bona fide international sensation by using everyday materials — styrofoam cups, pencils, straws, paper plates, Scotch tape, and more — to create sculptures that invade larger spaces that one would think possible with biomorphic shapes, mini cities, and quotidian-made-fantastic



Jonathan T.D. Neal

2011. Pace Gallery. Paperback

46 pages: 16 color illustrations; 8 ⅛ x 8 ⅛ inches