View Full Version : Tara Donovan is a "genius"
10-27-2008, 03:49 PM
So Tara Donovan has never been one of my favorite sculptors. You would think her work would be right up ol’ Cheesepaw’s alley – but I can’t stand the stuff. I can’t really figure out why!? In any case, it is unsettling to me that she would be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (the “genius” award – which is something like half a million dollars over 5 years for research and art making.). Has she really make ANY contribution to advancing sculpture or art? How does her work transcend a basic material exploration that is so common in art school classrooms? It seems so …observational and un-engaging – is it popular because it is easy to “get”.
Now most sculptors I know like her work – as do my students. What am I missing? To be fair – I have seen very little of this work in person. Even so…Are you a Tara Donovan fan? If so – why?
Here is a link to some images courtesy of her gallery - ACE
(I hope that is Ok mods – feel free to pull if I shouldn’t have posted the link).
10-27-2008, 04:46 PM
the geniusness of those geniuses is just so genius its way over my head :rolleyes::p
10-27-2008, 05:20 PM
I do see what she's getting at. And I can see why she is a darling of contemporary art. The Ace gallery assembles a good show...they are willing to let the artist of the "installation" persuasion go full throttle. I saw one of the straw shows there and was impressed, not necessarily by the work but by the special "will" that the work required. No doubt a person of big vision...but the works become sheepish by their passiveness. Materials choice. And I think an "object" needs to get achieved by the end. Visual treats are nice and if she has any influence at all upon the future of sculpture you can bet things will get a lot less dangerous.
If geniuses must be named...I'd prefer to give it to leonardo Drew...as texture becomes so important to form.
10-27-2008, 05:51 PM
Nature forms...good, creative use of materials...good,
Some of it looks like Andy Goldsworthy lite.
Genius? Perhaps only in relation to other overly praised artists.
If she deserves an award, it is for patience, assembling thousands of little objects to make one large one. That does not require genius, but industry.
Her work may not advance sculpture, but it does bring one back to basics, which doesn't happen with many artists today. (It may however advance the button and toothpick markets).
What I do like about her work is that it does not make me ill to look at it, which seemed like a serious possibility before I checked out the link, given the state of what gets the attention of the galleryeliteiasans. I do like the use of natural forms. I am fortunate to be exposed to a lot of them in my backyard, where the genius of nature is at work, without hands, glue, or power tools, creating multidudinous forms using only fire, air, water, and earth.
maybe they just cant understand with out some proper art schooling.Nah, my 15 y.o gets it big time. Can't let "proper art schooling" get in the way of your enjoying art! I'd like to see the other contenders for the award too...that would be an interesting show.
that it does not make me ill to look at it, which seemed like a serious possibility before I checked out the link, given the state of what gets the attention of the galleryeliteiasans.Maybe its time for art shows to have warning labels like films...MA(modern art, not suitable for narrow minds) or CRT(conceptual,requires thought), or OSC(old style crap, your grandmother would love it).
10-27-2008, 09:38 PM
Maybe its time for art shows to have warning labels like films...MA(modern art, not suitable for narrow minds) or CRT(conceptual,requires thought), or OSC(old style crap, your grandmother would love it).
Or, MA ( modern art, not suitable for people whose minds have not been programmed by higher education into calling anything "art" , except for actual art),
CRT (conceptional, requires suspending rational thought, good judgement, or any cognitive tool used to navigate the real world),
OSC (only serious contenders)
10-27-2008, 10:12 PM
For me, first off, the forms need to work visually, which they do. They are thoughtful and command attention. The forms transcend their materials, which are typically valueless in terms of traditional art materials. At that point I really appreciate the absolute commitment to the folly, the obvious non-archival quality of the whole installation. One sneeze and the whole scotch tape thing is history. "thems the breaks". Life is impermanent-- as are these installations.
appreciate the absolute commitment to the follyBINGO! Life is "controlled folly". The commitment and control are stupendous. What other folks don't see/get is the dedication . Yeah, they say, a kid or granny could have done it. Guess again. It would drive a "normal" person insane to even try to duplicate the work, let alone come up with the ideas and then follow through. This person thrives on it--Miracle Grow. This is eccentric work--love it for that reason alone.
10-28-2008, 12:37 AM
I don't think this grant is meant to label the selected artist as a "genius"... but is intended to give them the financial ability to chase after and visualise bigger ideas. Ann Hamilton (http://www.annhamiltonstudio.com/) received a MacArthur Fellowship awhile back which definitely enabled her to complete projects that might have never happened without it.
It's been a few years since I've seen Donovan's work, but I remember being intregued by the use of materials and the "forms" she's developed. So this grant should lead to some interesting new works. I doubt anyone walked into the gallery of suspended styrofoam cups and didn't "get it" because it's just so direct. It is not an intellectual exercise in aesthetics, but an honest, simple idea expanded to a grander scale to create a moment of ephemeral beauty in a new way... that just might encourage you to "see" things differently in the future. Whether you perceive clouds, the interaction of light and shadow, a biomorphic architectural ceiling or just a lot of effort to connect a bunch of white foam cups together doesn't matter... as I believe most people will generate their own appreciation of this form regardless of their background. A very simple critique might be nothing more than a person entering the room and saying "cool" .
Having said that doesn't mean this work can't spark academic discourse, dialogue or debate about aesthetics/style/beauty, materials, intent, impermanence, history, nature/nurture of art or something entirely different.
10-28-2008, 09:58 AM
The excessive multiplication of ANY thing, arranged or not, will provide for an unusual visual experience. The achieved "texture" that results can be "modeled" and formed - by the application of an unusually obsessive attention to minutae and tedious labor. I, personally, do not believe that any such effort can compete with the physical presence of the tire graveyard.
Sure, go out and find a shitload of all the cheapest, lightest things you can, be sure to include the words "temporary", "entropy", "everyday object" and "deterioration" in your statement and set to work on your arrangement. And while it indeed does require vision and know-how, You really cant lose. Its a feigned and affected New-York-Lame folkiness that is no more Art than a house in Mississippi sheathed in liscence plates. . Sweep it all up at the end of the month and wait for the calls from the bed-heads, the academics and the scribblers.
If it is indeed all leading up to something, then fine...I'll wait and see. And While I will still certainly get occasionally and initially flabbergasted by these kinds of things, I wont get baffled...and I wont be feeling priveledged at the engaging of some other creators overspill. Because the cup is not nearly full...in fact, experiential evaporation is perhaps diminishing such work with each passing moment. REAL stuff gets denser and denser...coagulates and solidifies. This stuff goes the other way, eventually, like words, becoming utterances spread out in the universe.
As Chris mentioned...more "bricklayer" here would help tremendously.
10-28-2008, 11:35 AM
never mind then
10-28-2008, 07:47 PM
...is no more Art than a house in Mississippi sheathed in liscence plates.
I think that house could be art too. Got a pic?
10-28-2008, 08:10 PM
never mind then
Hey - sorry for the delayed response. If I remember correctly you had asked whether I invite my students to visit the forum. I DO let upper-level students know about the forum - both as a resource and, perhaps, to give them a more realistic cross-section what it means to be a working sculptor (less they think that the only path is one attached to academia). Like so many things with students - you can lead them to the proverbial water....
Few (only one that I know of) have actually "sipped" by starting an account. (I don't think they are still here and they never posted.) The rest - well, perhaps they will come back in time. I considered - a while back - requiring registration and a minimal level of participation on the forum as part of a sculpture class - but I hate having things mandated to me so I backed off. Also, I really enjoy my students NOT being here sometimes. Teaching is only one of the things I do - it is nice to kick up my feet among fellow sculptors without having to be overly concerned about instructing/defending my students. I love the idea that they will find their way here eventually. When they do I would much rather set hierarchical constructs aside and engage them as peers rather than students.
10-28-2008, 08:16 PM
On route from Phoenix to Florida passing through Tallulah Lousiana in the winter of 1973 Dad's Mercury Monterey bit the dust in a really crappy area. While Dad tried to coax our boat back to life with swift kicks to the fenders, I assessed the scenery. There were two things worthy of notice: A huge banner on a diner that read "GRAVY GRITS" and a falling-down yet quite occupied house that had been sheathed in a gloriously texturous and bountifully colorful array of nailed-on liscence plates. Nothing else mattered as my eyes jerked back and forth in consideration of which one was more important. An eternity was spent wringing the wonder out of those visual entities that lasted until the tow-truck arrived. I didn't get to eat any of those grits (dad said I would get ptomaine...but I'd have taken the chance) but I DID get more than an eyeful of that house. And I've thought about it ever since. Art? Not sure, impactful...certainly.
When I was twenty I tried to make gravy grits...let those two great things remain apart.
10-28-2008, 10:01 PM
evaldart: Why not tie those two concepts together-make a robot out of license plates, eating gravy grits?
Or, do it Tara Donovan style. Cook gravy grits, form them into license plate shapes using a clear resin binder, and build a house with them.
Thanks for a good story concisely packed into a visually rich paragraph.
10-29-2008, 11:17 AM
...a moment of ephemeral beauty in a new way....... Whether you perceive clouds, the interaction of light and shadow, ...
to my eye, most "installation art" wasn't worth the stroll around the corner to see it.
layered rock, clouds, etc...
her work as it enhances the aesthetic possible in architecture is a sheer delight.
no less so than finding a good figurative piece in a garden setting
does it take a table person to follow the guiding of aesthetic(the muse)
to delight the eye?
how about a simple..."damned good eye"
I knew a "homeless" vet who squatted in the national forest when we were students together at SIU
he settled in a broad flat creek valley and, against a shear bank, built a house of used tires and rammed earth---had to crawl into it through an old truck tire, then up onto a raised platform, and it was quite cozy in a very cave or coalmine sort of way, with a small stove made out of bricks and clay from the creek, which kept it hot on cold winter days. Crank the little fire, then dash through the snow for a creek plunge and sponge bath,(amazing how small our penis's got, they almost turned into clits and disappeared inside us) then run back to the hot comfort of the tire cave.
the rangers found and disappeared it
then he built a summer house out of flattened beer cans in another beautiful valley
really fun stuff
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