Tara Donovan Stunners at Two Chelsea Pace Galleries in NYC

Tara Donovan sculpture of mylar bent into blooming balls and covered in mess - creates a piece that looks like a sea creature at the Pace Gallery in NYC

Tara Donovan has been one of our favorite contemporary artists since the early aughts, when pictures of her beautiful, crazily intricate, bio-organic-looking installations started popping up on the internet: walls made from clear drinking straws that seemed more coral than plastic; menacing hive-like hangings assembled from styrofoam cups and hot glue; bouquets of scotch tape, colonies of pencil stubs, fat fungal-looking stacks of adding paper… we loved it all. More reasons to be a fan: Tara Donovan is a native New Yorker, who now lives and works in Brooklyn; she's a MacArthur Fellow who graduated from the School of Visual Arts; and she only quit her bartending job in 2003, on the eve of her first solo show. 


Two subtle pieces of art from Tara Donovan one light triangle shape on a dark background and one dark triangle shape on a light background hung at the Pace Galleries in Chelsea

Pins intricately placed to create tonal circular shapes make up this Tara Donovan artwork

Anyway, Tara Donovan currently has two big exhibitions in Chelsea, at the Pace Galleries on 22nd and 25th Streets, and both, we think, are spectacular. Tara Donovan: Drawing (Pins) is at the Pace at 25th (there are actually two Pace Galleries on that street; Donovan's show is at 510); and as with all of the artist's work, the concept is brilliantly simple: using only nickel-headed pins-granted, tens of thousands of nickel-headed pins–embedded into Gatorboard, at varying heights and degrees of density to catch the light and your eye in different ways, Donovan creates pieces with an extraordinary range of color, and imagery, and feeling. And though it's highly unusual for Donovan to contain her stuff on a "canvas", these are large works–as big as eight-feet squared–and the overall result is totally riveting, a visual delight that had us (and everyone we saw who walked into the gallery) smiling and shaking our heads in astonishment.  

A close-up side view of Tara Donovan art with pins placed in Gatorboard to create circular shapes



Pace Gallery in NYC viewers inspect the giant Tara Donovan sea creature looking piece

Close-up view of Tara Donovan mylar bent piece creating a world within itself

And then there's Tara Donovan: Untitled (Mylar), which just opened at the Pace on 22nd Street last weekend, and it, too, is stunning. Made entirely of folded over bits of mylar, the sprawling installation fills of big chunk of the Pace space, towering up to 11 feet high in some spots. Even more than most, this is a sculptural work that transforms itself in astonishing ways as you walk around it, and peer into the dozens of caves, and crannies, and stand way back to see it as a whole. Again–and, somewhat obviously, given that it's made of mylar–reflected light plays a huge part in the piece, and it's almost impossible not to feel like you're circling some sort of brain coral colony, underneath a shallow, sunny sea. Gorgeous.   

Tara Donovan installation at Pace Gallery in New York mylar bent reflects dark and light greys like something in the sea


Tara Donovan at Pace Gallery in NYC Details  

Tara Donovan: Drawings (Pins) will be at the Pace Gallery at 510 West 25th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) until March 19. Tara Donovan: Untitled (Mylar) will be at the Pace Gallery at 545 West 22nd Street (also between 10th and 11th) until April 9th. Pace is open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. For more information about Tara Donovan in general and both of these exhibitions in particular, please see the Pace Gallery website

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