Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings

May 26, 2017 – September 4, 2017

Donald Sultan, Early Morning May 20 1986, 1986, Private collection, New York. © Donald Sultan

Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and F Streets, NW
Washington, DC

3rd Floor, North Floor Plan

In the 1980s Donald Sultan (born 1951) began his industrial landscape series the Disaster Paintings. He worked with the subject for nearly a decade, using images of actual events drawn from the daily newspaper. Sultan’s Disaster Paintings illustrate robust, man-made structures—such as industrial plants and train cars—as fragile constructs that can be undone by catastrophic events. The artist combined this subject matter with industrial materials, such as tar and Masonite tiles. The exhibition is the first to focus on the series and includes 12 signature paintings from 1984 to 1990, including Plant, May 29, 1985 from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which will be on view only at SAAM.

The exhibition is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; SAAM is the third stop on a five-city national tour for the exhibition. An exhibition catalogue, published by Prestel, is available in the museum store.