Donald Sultan - Blue Flowers, May 19, 1999
American, b.1951
Blue Flowers, May 19 1999, 1999
Woodcut, 28 x 36 inches
Edition 24/40
Tyler Graphics Ltd.

Gift of Joan and Michael A. Sakkinen (BBA ’58, MBA ’59)

After receiving his BFA from the University of North Carolina and his MFA from the Art Institute in Chicago, Sultan moved to New York City to jumpstart his career. He is most well known for his abstract still lives, many of which use black fields which are made out of real tar. He uses such subjects as fruit, dominos and flowers, to create his pieces. However the large blocks of color he uses makes the prints and paintings look very abstract.

This woodcut typifies Donald Sultan's interest in both relaistic and abstract form. He pushes each to an extreme in a single image. In this print, he flattens and crops clusters of nasturtium flowers in close-ups reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe's floral studies. But unlike her, he simplifies and distorts his flowers with bold, unnatural color. Their centers are perfect pin-points of white, the white of the unprinted sheet of paper. If the reduction of recognizable detail transforms the flowers into magically peering eyes, Sultan also leaves a knowing sense of a nasturtium's shape. The tension between these two readings, one realist, the other abstract, may account for how mesmerizing Sultan's lyrical flowers can be.