Visual Art Well, All Right: Tara Donovan Wins the MacArthur
posted by September 23 at 11:31 AMon
This year’s MacArthur Genius from the art world is New Yorker Tara Donovan, someone whose work I’ve never been able to get too thrilled about. (Greg Kucera Gallery showed some of it last year.)
It’s not that I don’t see how intriguing it can be. Here’s a 2000 ink drawing that leads the way stylistically into one of her signature assemblages made of everyday materials (this one is Scotch tape, from 2002).
It’s just that her art strikes me as a deeply conservative project in some ways—it takes messy excess (hundreds of rolls of printer paper or thousands of buttons, for instance) and tidies it and elevates it into the world of pretty abstractions and references to natural forms like coral reefs. The implications are occasionally tense—as in a perfect 2001 stack of shattered tempered glass held together only by friction and gravity—but as often the installations are little more than blandly reassuring. I guess their restraint feels to me like a light form of denial or very refined escapism. It leaves me wanting.
This is just to say that I find Donovan’s work worthy of attention but not exactly in the R&D department of the art world, as a winner of $500,000 ought to be. I’m hoping for more next time.