Tara Donovan

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I was reading an article in the Boston Globe which discussed the first year of exhibitions for the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the article mentioned an upcoming exhibition by sculptor Tara Donovan. A quick Google search led me to her work, which was a nice surprise. I’ve actually seen her work before; an article in Sculpture Magazine showed this work below, made entirely of paper plates a ways back. At that time, I didn’t catch her name and didn’t look into her work, so I’m glad that this time around I took the time to look her up.

I will admit that I don’t tend to like a lot of contemporary sculpture that’s being made right now; so much of it suffers from embarrassingly awful craftsmanship, is relying on a gimmick to carry the work, or is so antiquated in that it has no place in a contemporary context. That’s of course a huge generalization, but I was pretty excited about Donovan’s work, which has undeniable standard of quality in the technical execution, creating astonishing visual results. I also particularly like the way that she stretches the use of scale in her works; the works are enormous and monumental, and yet the components that they’re made out of seem minute and microscopic by comparison.

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Tara Donovan, Untitled, Paper Plates & Glue, 2003

I always admire artists who are able to apply such an obsessive focus to their work, probably because it’s the opposite end of the spectrum from how I create my own work, which concentrates on exploring multiple veins of work at the same time. In the past, I’ve had many people make the incorrect assumption that because I work with the figure in my own work that it means I’m only interested in other figurative artists. Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth; I think I tend to be more interested in art work that is as different from mine as possible, perhaps because for me a completely different process seems like that much more of an enigma.

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