Donald Sultan

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Donald Sultan
Cigarette, February 21 1980
Ink and blue pencil on paper.
20 1/4 x 21 inches (51.4 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Peter Freeman.

Sultan rose to prominence as part of a group of artists who took up figurative painting in the 1970s. He reimagined traditional genres, such as the still life, using unconventional, often industrial, materials like tar and linoleum tile. In his large-scale paintings of fruit and flowers, he drew out the paradox between muscular monumentality and his ephemeral subject matter. Alongside his paintings, Sultan has maintained a robust practice of drawing and printmaking. This sheet belongs to a series of paintings, drawings, and prints exploring the formal possibilities of cigarettes and smoke rings. It also incorporates an allusion to industrial architecture, specifically, a smokestack at the far right of the composition. There is a tension between the amorphousness and ephemerality of smoke and the stark, architectonic forms of the black-and-white drawing.

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