Tara Donovan

September 21, 2018–January 27, 2019


Tara Donovan: Fieldwork celebrated American artist Tara Donovan’s distinct and varied practice, which includes sculpture, drawings, works on paper, and site-responsive installations. Often known for her transformation of neutral or mundane materials into elaborate, mind-bending objects that evoke the natural world or other organic material, Donovan’s work in many ways is about work. She manipulates a material over and over again, to see what it is capable of becoming, where it might lead, and how it will migrate from an object of practical use to something surreal or sublime. In some instances, she reworks a material into both two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms, engaging with space and light in nuanced and unexpected ways.

Occupying MCA Denver’s entire building, this exhibition marked the first time that Donovan’s wall-based and freestanding objects were be installed together, in order to understand fully how the artist re-imagines everyday materials like plastic straws, index cards, rubber bands, Slinkys, and Mylar. A remix of older and recent works opened up new areas of dialogue within her practice and enabled viewers to make connections across time and subject matter. The exhibition was about how, through labor (especially repetitive action), order and structure can give way to the unpredictable, where reason yields to faith, and the mundane cedes to the marvelous—truly employing the creative act to seduce visually and, in doing so, override what we know to be factual.

Tara Donovan was born in 1969 in New York. She received her BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design (Washington, D.C.) in 1991, and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA) in 1999. She received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award in 2008, and the first annual Calder Prize in 2005. Numerous museums have mounted solo exhibitions of Donovan’s work including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2004 and 2009), theSt. Louis Art Museum (2006), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007-2008), the Institute of Contemporary Art,Boston (2008), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (2010),the Milwaukee Art Museum (2012), the LouisianaMuseum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark (2013),the Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany (2014), the Parrish Museum, Watermill, NY(2015) and Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Scotland (2015).Her work is included in the collections of major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, theLos Angeles County Museum of Art, and the WhitneyMuseum of American Art, among many others. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

The exhibition was accompanied by a major catalogue, co-published with Rizzoli Electa, featuring essays by Nora Burnett Abrams, Giuliana Bruno, and Jenni Sorkin. This exhibition traveled to the Smart Museum June 14–September 22, 2019.

The exhibition is curated by
Nora Burnett Abrams, Ellen Bruss Curator at MCA Denver

Informative Text

MCA Denver thanks the Director's Vision Society and the citizens of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District for their support of the exhibition. The museum would also like to thank Pace Gallery for significant support in the realization of this exhibition.