The advice that I tend to give young artists, if they ask, is that you should think about your art as if no one is going to look at it but you. And you should be able to do what you’re doing and be passionate about what you are doing if you live in a cabin in the woods and no one was there. It’s just you and your work. That’s the best advice I can give. Everything else is gravy. If you can do that, everything else will be easy.
– Donald Sultan
Donald Sultan’s Disaster Paintings toured major venues around the U.S. last year, from the the Lowe Museum in Miami to the Smithsonian in D.C., and garnered a new, wider and younger audience for Sultan’s work.
The Disaster Paintings, which he did between 1984 and 1990, are images of actual events that Sultan gleaned from daily newspapers. His use of rugged materials, like masonite, linoleum and tar, lent themselves to the industrial and man-made disasters represented in the works.
Sultan had experimented with using industrial materials to create unique surfaces while earning his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. When he moved to New York in 1975, he worked as a handyman, and had access to left over linoleum and other commercial materials.
Today, Sultan still works with some of the same materials that give his work texture and depth, but his subject matter and style have simplified, and beautified, over time.
Donald Sultan Prints at VFA
Donald Sultan was inspired by the patterns of flowers he saw on Japanese lanterns to create simple designs, where the positive and negative spaces help to create strong images. He maintains texture in his prints by using enamel inks, flocking and diamond dust on museum board or Saunders Waterford papers.
He also collaborates with Mixografia, the print studio that was founded in Mexico City in 1937 and opened a second shop in Los Angeles in 1984. Mixografia specializes in producing prints in relief, which is the bedrock of Donald Sultan’s work.
Japanese Pines, available at VFA, is a work that Sultan did in collaboration with the master printmakers at Mixografia. Sultan used handmade paper to contrast with the texture of the inks.
Donald Sultan Sculptures at VFA
A natural evolution for Donald Sultan, are his works in Cor-Ten steel and aluminum. Using simple flower designs…the poppies for which he is well known…and tulips, he is able to create the positive and negative space in three dimensional design that forms the basis of his work. Donald Sultan’s Cor-Ten Poppies and White Tulips and Vase are both available at VFA.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the works, in multiple medium, of Donald Sultan, for sale at VFA.
Emily Karcher Schmitt. Death, disaster come calling in tar and latex sculpted on tile. Smithsonian Insider. August 8, 2017.
L. Kent Wolgamott. L. Kent Wolgamott: Donald Sultan’s dark, dominant “Disaster Paintings” at Sheldon. Lincoln Journal Star. March 4, 2018.