Donald Sultan b. 1951

"I only wanted to use what I called industrial materials. They were cheap and could marry the architecture. I wanted to force the paradox between archictecture and impermanence."

Donald Sultan is a leading contemporary artist who first rose to prominence in the late 1970s as part of the “New Image” movement. He is known for his monumental paintings that characteristically employ industrial materials, including tar, spackle, and enamel, to render basic geometric and organic elements with a formal minimalism that is both weighty and structured. Sultan is known for his still-life imagery as well as his “Disaster” paintings that focused on themes of industry, war, and man-made catastrophes. Throughout his career, he has revisited and reinvented the still-life with images of lemons, poppies, playing cards, fruits and flowers, and other objects. Interested in contrast, he explores such dichotomies as beauty and roughness, nature and artificiality, and realism and abstraction.


Drawing and printmaking have been an important part of Sultan’s practice since the 1970’s. Major print projects include his “Black Lemons” aquatint portfolio, which were printed in 1987 and exhibited at MoMA a year later. In 1999, he collaborated with David Mamet on his book, Bar Mitzvah, for which he did the drawings. In 2002, Sultan was invited to launch the Visiting Artists Programme at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, where he created ambitious woodcut and intaglio prints. Other important prints include the silkscreens Fruits and Flowers I, II, III; Green Apples with master printer Ken Tyler; Red Roses and Egg; the Smoke Rings series; The Brutal Unsentimental Landscape series, and the 12 Colors portfolio, marked by the complex nature of the projects.