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Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings

September 23, 2017–December 31, 2017
North Carolina Museum of Art

Donald Sultan’s Disaster Paintings are among the artist’s most important and iconic works. 

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Each of these 11 paintings, created between 1984 and 1990, is an imposing, industrial-like structure, reinforced by Sultan’s preferred media of Masonite tiles and tar. The resilience of his materials contrasts with his subject matter: fires, floods, and industrial catastrophes, which provoke feelings of fear, instability, and frailty. These large-scale paintings, most of which measure eight feet square, are heavy and dense, bringing a serious permanence to calamities that are often over in a flash. Sultan’s images force us to confront the realities of contemporary life and dare us to remember the long-term effects of each accident or reaction. 

Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas. In Raleigh this exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Donald Sultan, Venice without Water June 12 1990, 1990, latex and tar on tile over Masonite, 96 x 96 in., North Carolina Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Art Trust Fund, © 2017 Donald Sultan

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