making magic from everyday objects – the art of tara donovan

I almost missed Tara Donavan’s (b. 1969) first European show at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art outside of Copenhagen, Denmark had it not been for some of my itinerant friends.  Tara, for those who don’t know, is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work I first came across at Sotheby’s last year when her sculpture “Bluffs” caught my eye.  What was it exactly?  It turns out it was huge tower of buttons stacked to look like some incredible rock formation.  Since then, I’ve been hooked on Tara!

In the tradition of artists like Marcel Duchamp, Donovan looks to everyday items like buttons, toothpicks, and foil and turns them into wonderfully tactile sculptures.  The artist is said to choose the object first and then allow creativity to inspire the resulting art and its story.  Some of the pieces are intimate in scale while others overpower a space with their complexity.
I appreciate that she can take a drinking straw and build something beautiful and organic.  The range of pieces from her latest series of work is also remarkable: there are cubes of toothpicks, billowing clouds of Styrofoam cups, pillars of buttons and one of my new favorites, the magical “paintings” made from pins (top image).  I’ve seen a number of artists whose works revolve around simple objects like those in Tara’s work.  The difference is that hers are infinitely more polished and better executed, which like anything else, makes the difference between mediocre rubbish and inspirational art.
Represented by Pace Gallery, Donovan has shown at the Whitney Biennial in 2000 and was invited in 2007 to show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York as part of their series of solo contemporary artists. Her works do come up at auction, but beware!  Before you go crazy bidding on her work, think very carefully about where you are going to safely display it.  Can’t just place a huge cube of pins in the baby’s room!
image credits: Tara Donavan is represented by Pace Gallery, New York, London, Beijing  © 2013 Pace Gallery, All Rights Reserved.  Unless otherwise specified, all artworks © the artist; all images © Pace Gallery 

PS: Thank you for stopping by and reading my feature today.  I love what I do as an interior designer and art advisor, and it’s my hope that through these blog posts I’m enriching and heightening your aesthetic sensibility towards art, design and fabulous interiors in some way ~ Richard Rabel (a.k.a. the modern sybarite)