All This Useless Beauty

Is there anything beautiful about the disposable plastic cup? What about a carpet of them, strewn across the ground in the aftermath of marathon? They're an eyesore, just common litter. But to Tara Donovan, these mass-produced objects have a very faint beauty. Donovan chooses objects like the humble plastic cup, studies them to understand how they're constructed and then assembles great numbers of them into structural systems that take advantage of — and are dependent upon — the objects' physical characteristics. Her installation Untitled (Plastic Cups) is nothing more than thousands of these milky-white cups stacked in tightly packed columns of various height; the result is an undulating landscape that fills a gallery, reminiscent of snowy vistas or the rolling sea. In Donovan's assembled masses, that faint beauty of a single object becomes an overwhelming roar. Donovan's work is on display in Currents 98: Tara Donovan in galleries 337 and 339 of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org) beginning this evening. Donovan lectures on her work at 7 p.m. in the museum auditorium; Currents 98: Tara Donovan remains on display through Sunday, November 26.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 14. Continues through Nov. 26

 
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