Although Donaldson was not part of the generation of Royal College of Art students, his early friendship with Patrick Caulfield, Allen Jones and Peter Phillips linked him directly to the group of RCA students who established Pop Art as a movement at the 1961 Young Contemporaries Exhibition in London.
In 1962, Donaldson developed the simplified treatment of the female figure that typified his work over the next half decade. Youthful, shapely and sexually confident, these women strike flirtatious poses and reveal themselves almost wantonly to the viewer’s gaze. Even when clothed in their bathing suits, or when showing us nothing more than their faces, it is the exposed surface of their perfect flesh that one first notices. Their facial features are depicted in a generalized way, to emphasise the fact that these are not portraits of particular individuals but fantasy images formed in the mind of a young man.
These depictions of beach beauties, strippers and starlets bask in the prospect of pleasure, of an existence characterised by never-ending relaxation and leisure, and as such they perfectly capture the mood of the time - the demands for the good life after the grayness and deprivations of the immediate post-war years. Like Hockney, Donaldson dreamt of a sun-drenched, laid-back southern California life and settled in Los Angeles 1966-1968. The bold simplicity of his compositional schemes and the central role accorded to flat areas of saturated colour were confirmed by his American experience.
Donaldson’s work has been included in all international, overview exhibitions on Pop Art and in all publications on the movement.
Donaldson currently lives and works in London.
1962, Second Prize Guiness Award
1962-1963, Post-Graduate Scholarship in Fine Art at London University
1963, Second Prize, John Moores Open Competition, Liverpool
1966-1968, Harkness Foundation Fellowship to U.S.A
1970, Field & Sons Co Ltd Prize, Bradford Print Biennale
Public collections include
Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast
Contemporary Art Society, London
Porto Alegre Museum, Brazil
Arts Council of Great Britain
Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Berado Collection Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Portugal
British Council, London
British Museum, London
Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Olinda Museum, Brazil
The Tate Gallery, London
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
Hedendaagse Kunst, Utrecht, Holland