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Daniel McDonald

Born 1971 in Los Angeles, California
Lives and works in New York, New York

Daniel McDonald humorously blends images from popular culture with dollhouse-scale narrative tableaux to address contemporary social issues. His precisely detailed, three-dimensional dioramas are peopled with toy figurines from different, incongruous cultural sources. In this work, McDonald presents an allegory of the current U.S. economic crisis. American pop-music icon Michael Jackson, wearing garb from his epic 1982 music video Thriller, steps onto the boat of Charon, the ferryman who, in Greek mythology, transports the recently deceased to the underworld. While Jackson offers a coin as payment for his voyage, Uncle Sam, unconscious and inebriated at the other end of the boat, has no money to appease Charon. The absurdity of the scene is heightened with theatrical effects such as stage lighting, a smoke machine, and variations in scale. In this witty melding of imagery, McDonald juxtaposes iconic figures to create a potent satire.

Read about the artist

The Artists’ Artists
Artforum (December 2008; note: registration required)