Tara Donovan - Photo of the artist in front of her work - Image via eveningtimes

Tara Donovan

United States 1969

Installation, Sculpture

Tara Donovan
Tara Donovan
United States
August 23, 2017
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreja-velimirovi%C4%87-74068a68/

Tara Donovan is a widely acclaimed American artist who fabricates site-specific installations using commonly found materials such as styrofoam cups, drinking straws, toothpicks, paper plates and pencils. She relies on the unique properties of the chosen material, such as the transparency of scotch tape, and turns it into a driving force behind her compositions. Donovan’s installations are often reminiscent of organic or molecular structures, a visual feature that became a sort of trademark to Tara’s body of work. Although her work tends to favor biological forms rather than a rectilinear grid system, Donovan’s use of singular materials and adherence to rule-based systems has aligned her with the legacies of Minimalist artists such as Sol LeWitt and Eva Hesse.

Tara Donovan - Untitled - Image via pinterestcom
Tara Donovan – Untitled – Image via pinterest.com

How Tara Donovan Became a Part of the Art World

Tara Donovan was born in Flushing, Queens, during the year of 1969, and she the middle child of three siblings. However, she spent most of her childhood up in Rockland County, in a small town called Blauvelt quite close to New York City where her parents worked. Although many artists tend to start developing their creative expression early on, Tara did not start to consider herself a sculptor until she started to attend the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C.. From that point on, Donovan began entering regional art shows to display her works[1] until she helped create her own gallery space in an old converted D.C. nightclub called the Insect Club. In the year of 2000, Tara participated in the Whitney Biennial and, after that, she lived and worked as a waitress in New York when she finally was contacted by Doug Christmas to show a piece in the Ace Gallery in L.A.. This meeting was a breakthrough show for Donovan that led her to more opportunities and shows in and out of NYC.

Tara Donovan - Untitled - Image via mommikincom
Tara Donovan – Untitled – Image via mommikin.com

Analyzing Her Installation Work

Tara Donovan held her first solo exhibition titled Resonances in 1998, held at Hemphill Fine Arts in Washington, D.C.. She quickly acquired a reputation of a young star in the world of art. A true refreshment to her contemporary scene that seemed to be stagnating a bit, Donovan’s work used everyday manufactured materials such as scotch tape, styrofoam cups, toothpicks and drinking straws to create large scale sculptures that often had a biomorphic quality. These were often a result of a tedious process as her compositions needed to be assembled and disassembled carefully. Interestingly, Donovan stated on a couple of occasions that she chooses the material before she decides what can be done with it[2], which is a very unorthodox approach to making art – but then again, her entire practice was always highly unconventional so the initial method is not such a surprise to anyone who knows this artist’s work. Perhaps Donovan’s colleague Chuck Close explained Tara’s fondness of eccentric techniques the best: At this particular moment in the art world, invention and personal vision have been demoted in favor of appropriation, of raiding the cultural icebox. For somebody to go out and try to make something that doesn’t remind you of anybody else’s work and is really innovative — and I think Tara’s work is — that’s very much against the grain of the moment. To me, it represents a gutsy move.

Tara Donovan is internationally recognized for her site-specific installations that utilize the properties of their materials and turn it into the driving force of the entire composition

Tara Donovan - An Installation that's a part of the Wonder exhibit - Image via americanartsiedu
Tara Donovan – An Installation that’s a part of the Wonder exhibit – Image via americanart.si.edu

A Universe of Its Own

It is not like I’m trying to simulate nature. It’s more of a mimicking of the way of nature, the way things actually grow. This concept is what makes Tara’s work so intriguing and original[3]. It is also the reason why Donovan’s large-scale installations and sculptures made from everyday objects have earned her a worldwide acclaim. She displayed an ability to discover the inherent physical characteristics of an object and transform it into art in an unusual fashion, independent from any direct reference or influence. A visual language completely her own, the work of Tara Donovan is a true wonder of contemporary art, a celebration of how far avant-garde thoughts and bravery to experiment outside of conventional limitations have brought us.

Tara Donovan lives and works in Brooklyn, New York City, the United States.


  1. Neal, T. D. J., Tara Donovan – Drawings, Pace Wildenstein, 2011
  2. Neal, T. D. J., Brewer, P., Tara Donovan, Pace Wildenstein, 2016
  3. Donovan, T., Weschler, L., Baume, N., Mergel, J., Tara Donovan, The Monacelli Press, 2008

Featured image: Tara Donovan – Photo of the artist in front of her work – Image via eveningtimes.co.uk
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Tara DonovanPace Gallery, Seoul Solo
2017Tara Donovan: Compositions CardsBarbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA Solo
2017Tara DonovanPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2017Tara DonovanPace Gallery, Palo Alto, CA Solo
2017Material PresenceTalley Dunn Gallery, Dallas, TX Group
2017Chewing Gum IIPace Gallery, Hong Kong Group
2016Defining SculptureAlbright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY Group
2016Summer SchoolFLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NY Group
2016Talking on PaperPace Beijing, Beijing Group
2016The Calder Prize 2005-2015Pace London, London Group
2015Platform: Tara DonovanParrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY Solo
2015Tara DonovanPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2015Paulin, Paulin, PaulinGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris Group
2015Summer Group ShowPace Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2015Choice WorksMana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ Group
2015WhiteMuseum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL Group
2014Tara Donovan: MoiréSmith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA Solo
2014Tara DonovanPace Gallery, Menlo Park, CA Solo
2014Tara DonovanPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2014Matter And SizeThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA Group
2014Apparent FormsThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA Group
2014Carte BlanchePace Gallery Chesa Büsin, Zuoz Group
2014GroundedPace Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2013Tara DonovanArp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen Solo
2013Tara DonovanLouisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk Solo
2013WhiteDickinson Roundell Inc., New York City, NY Group
2013Now Here is also Nowhere: Part IIHenry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA Group
2012Currents 35: Tara DonovanMilwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI Solo
2012Refracting LightReynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA Group
2012Summer Group ShowPace Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2012Sculpted MatterPaul Kasmin Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2012Watch Your StepFLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NY Group
2012Par Par S E TThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA Group
2011PinsGarvey|Simon, New York City, NY Solo
2011Tara DonovanPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2011All That GlistersStephen Friedman Gallery, London Group
2011Artist File2011 The Nact Annual Show Of Contemporary ArtThe National Art Center Tokyo, Tokyo Group
2010Tara Donovan: UntitledIndianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Indianapolis, IN Solo
2010Painting and SculptureLehmann Maupin, New York City, NY Group
201040Texas Gallery, Houston, TX Group
2010At the edgePortsmouth Museum of Art, Portsmouth, NH Group
2010On the SquarePace Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2010New Year: New WorkReynolds Gallery, Richmond, VA Group
2009Tara DonovanMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown, San Diego, CA Solo
2009Tara DonovanDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA Solo
2009Tara Donovan: New DrawingsPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2009Tara DonovanCincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH Solo
2008Tara DonovanInstitute of Contemporary ArtBoston, Boston, MA Solo
2007Tara Donovan at the MetThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY Solo
2007TARA DONOVAN Bubbles, Loops, & Spheres: Sculpture and drawingsGreg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA Solo
2007Tara DonovanStephen Friedman Gallery, London Solo
2006Tara DonovanThe Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA Solo
2006Currents 98: Tara DonovanSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO Solo
2006Tara Donovan: Rubber Band DrawingsPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2006Tara DonovanBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2006Tara Donovan: New WorkPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2005Tara DonovanBirmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL Solo
2004Tara DonovanMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA Solo
2004Tara DonovanUCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2004Tara DonovanAkira Ikeda, Berlin Solo
2003HazeRice Gallery, Houston, TX Solo
2003Tara Donovan: DrawingsShaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH Solo
1999Tara DonovanThe Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Solo
Pace Gallery Seoul Delivers Tara Donovan's First Solo Exhibition in Asia

Pace Seoul will survey works by Tara Donovan created in the past two decades, including her latest body of work exploring the idea of stratification.

Read More
Art on Paper - The Third Edition of the New York's Bourgeoning Fair

Art on Paper New York Fair focuses its selection of works that expand, re-imagine, and explore the boundaries of what a work of art on paper can be.

Read More
Contemporary Sculptors You Must Follow

We have compiled a list of the most influential contemporary sculptors that you should know about, each occupying a different vision of what sculpture can be.

Read More
Tara Donovan - Working with Banal Objects

Tara Donovan is an American artist best known for site-specific installations and sculptures that utilize everyday materials

Read More
The Calder Prize 2005–2015 Exhibition at PACE London Explores the Depth of Influence of Alexander Calder on Contemporary Art

Exploring the influence Alexander Calder on contemporary art, the Calder exhibition puts his work in perspective with six young contemporary artists.

Read More