Publication Date: September 2008
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Artist Tara Donovan uses commonplace consumer materials--toothpicks, tape, pencils, buttons, paper plates, and the like--to create her dazzling sculptural installations. Often biomorphic or topographical in character, her large-scale abstract works utilize systematic arrangements of thousands or even millions of units. Visually evocative and perceptually seductive, her pieces are at once organic and highly structured. Donovan has been recognized for her commitment to process and her ability to discover how the inherent physical characteristics of an object might allow it to be transformed into art.
Published in conjunction with a major solo exhibition at the Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston, this book is the first to document Donovan's complete oeuvre, from her beginnings working in ink to her most recent pieces. Among the many works shown are Untitled (Plastic Cups), a 50-by-60-foot landscape of plastic cups; Haze, a 42-foot-long wall of over two million clear plastic drinking straws stacked like wood; and her three 40-inch cubes, one of steel pins, one of toothpicks, and one of shattered glass. An in-depth conversation between Donovan and Lawrence Weschler traces the artist's schooling, early career, and current work.
Lawrence Weschler is Director Emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. A former staff writer at The New Yorker, he is the author of over fifteen books, include the Pulitzer-nominated Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences, winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. He is a contributing editor at Threepenny Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and McSweeneys.
Nicholas Baume is Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the curator of the ICA's Anish Kapoor exhibition. He is the editor of "Super Vision" (MIT Press, 2006).
“This singular artist is creating a dazzling body of work that will enrich the fields of contemporary sculpture and installation art for years to come.”
—The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
“Ms. Donovan [has the] ability to uncover unexpected qualities in the most commonplace materials and objects.”
—Carol Kino, “The Genius of Little Things,” The New York Times
“The work has the pragmatic rigor of that earlier American period [of Minimalism] . . . but it brings it into our own period by suggesting digital, cellular, emergent networks. It seems to speak to the systems that are shaping our lives.”
—Nicholas Baume, chief curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, as quoted in The New York Times