Neal Baer Collection

Danny McDonald

The Last Straw


Plastic, polymer clay, Plexiglas, vinyland nylon action figure components; acrylic paint and rhinestone, wood plinth

Sculpture: (49 x 44.5 x 30 cm) 
Overall: (145 x 44.5 x 30 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Photograph: Mark Blower

Danny McDonald (b. Los Angeles, 1971) studied at Cooper Union and has since then lived and worked in New York. The Last Straw features a recurrent character in McDonald’s work, Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald’s fast-food chain. The toy model employed here is a skeletonized, Halloween-style Happy Meal toy and it sits on the lip of a large Coca-Cola soda bottle which seems to be melting into a hellish fire, producing a picaresque of American consumerism and fast-food culture.

McDonald is most well-known for sculptural tableaux vivants made of particularly arranged movie memorabilia, action figures, and other found objects that he frequently finds on eBay. He also performs as “Mindy Vale”, a hunchback granny he considers his alter ego, and designs jewelry under the “Mended Veil” label. Along with six other Cooper Union undergraduates, he was a member of the artist collective Art Club 2000, which was active in the 1990s and produced parodic work on topics such as Manhattan’s gentrification and the role of the artist in contemporary society. 

Playing on a confusion between artistic subjectivity and the ready-made commodity, McDonald’s project underlines the living-dead status of products and selves that outlast their expiration dates, while foregrounding a hobbyist’s approach to making objects — self-sufficient, self-sustaining, never in a hurry…In his case, the joke is in how the hobbyist’s detached and retiring attitude collides with the end-of-the-rope urgencies that dramatize his sculptures.

John Kelsey, “Daniel McDonald,” Artforum, October 2008

By its hand-made aesthetic and emphasis on the readymade, McDonald’s work creates interesting dialogues with the work of Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt.

Isabella Bortolozzi

Isabella Bortolozzi, “Search Parameters,” April 28 – July 27, 2018

See also
Danny McDonald in the collection of the MOCA Los Angeles

Danny McDonald in the 2010 Whitney Biennial

Danny McDonald Interview, Artforum, February 22, 2010