J. T. Donovan is a fine art painter and carpenter best known for his geometric oil paintings that juxtapose carefully related colors mixed by the artist. Since the 1980s, Donovan has sought to create an art that could be appreciated by anyone, regardless of background. His non-objective color theory work, painted on shaped canvases that conform to his color compositions, is informed and inspired by Richard Paul Lohse as well as the Gestalt theory utilized by Minimalist sculptors Robert Morris and Tony Smith, among others.

Born in Brooklyn, Donovan received a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1981 from Parsons School of Design, where his training included a course on principles of color first taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany before World War II. In the late 1980s, he painted his first colored square paintings consisting of nine spectral colors (red, yellow, blue, and two color mixes in between each of the three primaries). The colors were displayed in the same way as the nine numbers on a telephone push button dial. It was also at this time when Donovan first saw the paintings of Richard Paul Lohse at Donald Judd’s building on the corner of Spring and Mercer streets in SoHo. Donovan used to pass by Judd’s building on his way from a studio in SoHo to Brooklyn, where he lived at the time. Lohse’s color palette and serial structures influenced and liberated Donovan’s art.

Over the next few years, Donovan decided not to limit his paintings to strict rectangular formats. He uses his skills as a carpenter to make shaped canvases that conform to the color compositions in his paintings. This objective approach of making and displaying dynamic shaped art moves the paintings in a more material direction and utilizes a gestalt reminiscent of Morris, Smith, and other Minimalist sculptors.

Donovan worked for many years at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. There, the influences of art and the technical aspects of making art made an impact on his thinking as an artist. Donovan currently creates his artwork in Bloomfield, NJ and Kearny, NJ.