Joseph McDonnell received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame, working under renowned sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. He also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, and at the Harvard School of Design. He has produced more than 150 major commissions for institutions, corporations, and individuals including CBS, IBM, General Electric, Reader’s Digest, Dulles Airport, the Milwaukee Public Museum and the New Jersey State Government. McDonnell has also been an associate editor and sculpture critic for the monthly newspaper Art World, and is a long-term member of The Century Association serving on the Exhibit Committee. In addition, he has been commissioned to design sculptures for awards given to honorees of Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Westchester Open Golf Classic, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. He has been a resident of Seattle for the past fifteen years.Joseph McDonnell’s half century of exploration of abstract and figurative sculpture in stone, bronze and steel gave him the solid reputation of a major force in late modern sculpture, and by the eighties, he was recognized for his strongly geometric, yet fluid locking pieces, cube compositions and monumental, multi-faceted gates.
More recently, McDonnell reinvented himself as he began working with a medium that had fascinated him since childhood, when he would melt glass rods over the stove to create quirky animals. His glass ice cubes, and the later interpretation of the subject in resin for outdoor installations, often stacked or aggregated into horizontal groupings, can be seen as a logical evolution for a sculptor who had repeatedly proven he was willing to work hard and take risks.
McDonnell’s monograph published in 2004 by the University of Washington Press gives an excellent overview of the sculptor by art critic and Stony Brook University, NY, Professor Donald Kuspit, who describes McDonnell as being: “clearly a master of what might be called late modern sculpture - cubist/constructivist complexity and an expressionistic sense of drama... They [his sculptures] are about faith in the possibility of perfection in an imperfect and unperfectable world.”