Tara Donovan and Alyson Schotz are pinheads. And I mean that in the best possible way. Both are showing new work in solo exhibitions in Chelsea—Donovan at Pace and Schotz at Derek Eller, both through the 19th—in which straight pins are integral elements of their work.

The details: Tara Donovan, above, and Alyson Schotz, below

Entry view to the exhibition

At Pace Gallery in Chelsea, Donovan has produced enormous circular compositons or central-point images using nothing but stainless steel straight pins tapped into gatorboard. In the past Donovan has compressed pins like these into solid cubes. Here she works two dimensionally—well in low relief—to create works that catch the light in such a way that they range tonally from white to black. Their monumental size and physical mass should register as weighty, but the shimmery opticality does the opposite, making them appear almost to float.

This is the view once you walk into the gallery

A different perspective of the right-side wall shown in the previous image, with a detail of the foreground work below:


The left-side wall glimpsed in the opening installation image, with a detail of the far work below:

Two drawings in the smaller back gallery. The image at the top of this post is a detail of the farther work; the detail below is of the work closer to you . . .

. . . and the detail below is a side view so that you can see the pin placement up close. Very close. (I used the macro detail to shoot it)


Over at Derek Eller Gallery, Alyson Schotz has created a complex sine curve on the two of the gallery’s walls using pins as anchors for the hand-dyed yarn that creates a dimensional drawing. The plane of the work is about an inch and a half off the wall, so yarn shadows make a doppelganger drawing on it. The geometry is computer generated and projected onto the wall, but the work is done by hand—many hands, all tapping and threading. Schotz has created several such works but this is the most complex (and fabulous) I’ve seen.

Alyson Schotz: Sine, 2011, hand-dyed yarn and pins on wall, 115x377x1.75 inches
Details below:

Below: side view of the construction, with a glimpse of the shadow drawing

Meanwhile, over at the fairs, nails were in evidence. At the Armory Modern, Galerie Thomas, Munich, offered a prominent display of the work of Gunther Uecker, whose paintings are created by studding a surface with nails in a pattern at an angle. I like this work. The gallery must, too, because they'd shown it Basel Miami just three months earlier. (I included it in my Color and Geometry post).  At Pulse, Zidoun Gallery, Luxembourg, showed a representational image graphically rendered with an economy of nails.

Gunther Uecker: White Spiral/Bright Spiral, 1970, nails on canvas on wood, sprayed white; 59 x 59 inches
Detail below:

Alexis Peskine, Aunted, 2007, nail with gold leaf, enamel on wood, 39x26 inches
Detail below


annell4 said...

These are amazing artists doing amazing things! Thanks so much for the post@

kim matthews said...

Thanks for adding Uecker to the mix and of course for another great post.. If I'm not mistaken, he's the last surviving member of Zero Group, whom l love.

The Donovan works are fresh, yet still recognizably Donovan. And I'm looking forward to seeing more from Alyson Schotz.

Nancy Natale said...

This work is amazing, Joanne - very different from my tack addiction and beautiful. Thanks for posting!

Joanne Mattera said...

Yes, Nancy. It's different, but not unrelated. However, you are a Tackhead. ;-)

Susan Buret said...

From across the world, thank you for showing us these fabulous works and giving us a much better look than we can get from the galleries websites.

Kylo Chua said...

Spectacular art arrangements that make use of weaving and pinning elements. I can't wait till artistic styles like this come to the Philippines. Non-traditional exhibitions like this are infrequent here, but I'm crossing my fingers.

Stephanie Sachs said...

Thanks for showing me the work of Alyson Schotz. So inspiring. Have been a fan of Tara Donovan's but never have see Alyson Schotz before. Stunning. You continue to open my eyes.

Kirsty Hall said...

Fabulous. I use straight pins in my own work, so I'm always interested in other artists who use them. Thanks for the introduction to Alyson Schotz, I hadn't seen her work before.

Unknown said...

Alyson Shotz is doing great work. She had a stunning suspended piece at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, until recently.

Called The Geometry of Light, it was made of plastic Fresnel lenses, silvered glass beads and stainless steel wire all shimmering in a darkened room.You can see my photos of the work at .

Unknown said...

Whoops. I forgot to give the full web address for the Shotz installation at MASS MoCA. Go to

Christine said...

Thanks so much for the great images. I so wanted to see the work in person but life got in the way. Your report at least enabled me to get a real feel for it.