Donald K. Sultan an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, particularly well-known for large-scale still life paintings and the use of industrial materials such as tar, enamel, spackle and vinyl tiles. Donald Sultan was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He received his BFA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. After receiving an MFA degree from the Art Institute of Chicago, Donald Sultan moved to New York in 1975 to begin his career as an artist. He supported himself by helping other artists construct lofts during the day and painting at night. He soon got a full-time position as a handyman in an art gallery, a job that lasted until the gallery closed in 1978. In 1979, Sultan won a $2,500 Creative Artists Public Service Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, and that money enabled him to work full-time on his art.
Donald Sultan rose to prominence in the late 1970s as part of the “New Image” movement. His first solo exhibition was mounted in 1977 at Artists Space Artists Space in New York, followed by group shows at Mary Boone Gallery in 1978 and Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1979. As Sultan’s work started to attract media attention and receive critical acclaim, prominent galleries and museums around the world such as the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1981, and the Houston Museum of Contemporary Art also in 1981, began to include his paintings in their exhibitions. In 1987 alone, impressive solo exhibitions were mounted at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Blum Helman Gallery in New York.
His work is included in the permanent collection of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. A monograph of Sultan’s thirty-year career Donald Sultan: The Theatre of the Object (Vendome Press) was published in 2008. In 2010 Sultan was honoured with the North Carolina award, the highest award a State can bestow on a civilian.