About the Artist
Donald Sultan is an American artist, best known for his use of industrial materials in his prints, paintings and sculptures.
Early Life and Education
Donald Sultan was born in Asheville, North Carolina on May 5, 1951. His parents nurtured his interest in the arts. Sultan’s mother was active in the theater. Sultan acted, built and painted sets for as an apprentice for several professional theater companies. His father was an amateur abstract painter. He owned a tire company where Sultan became familiar with the use of industrial materials.
Sultan chose art over theater. He completed his BFA degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973, then went on to get his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1975.
Career and Personal Life
After graduation in 1975, Sultan moved to New York to pursue his career as an artist. He supported himself by helping to construct artists’ lofts and worked as a handyman at an art gallery, while painting at night. He would often use tar and linoleum left over from some of the construction jobs instead of canvas, creating textured works that garnered him a $2,500 Creative Artists Public Service Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, and that allowed him to become a full time artist.
In 1977 he began to have solo exhibits and his works were included in group shows in major museums and galleries. Many of his works were very large paintings, made of linoleum tile grids, primed with tar and painted with floral and fruit patterns. The rustic texture and simple design of his works, the juxtaposition of industrial design and romantic subject, gives his work a unique richness.
From 1984 to 1990, Sultan painted a series of 8 x 8 foot paintings of natural and industrial disasters, titled after the actual events. In 2017, the Disaster Paintings toured major museums around the country.
In 1999, Sultan was commissioned to display his art in the Art’otel Budapest in Hungary. Given free reign, Sultan designed the hotel’s dishes, matchboxes, bathrobes, rugs and the fountains that he believed should be in each room. Nearly 600 original Donald Sultan’s works are displayed in the hotel’s 165 rooms and suites and public areas.
Sultan was married in the 1970s, a marriage that ended in divorce. He has a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. He lives and works in studio in Tribeca. Sultan also has a home in Sag Harbor and an apartment in Paris.
His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and many others throughout the world.