Fact Sheet Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings”

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Laura Baptiste
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“Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings”
May 26 – Sept. 4

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eighth and F streets N.W.

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. Distinguished for combining this subject matter with industrial materials, such as tar and Masonite tiles, the “Disaster Paintings” exemplify in both media and concept the vulnerability of the most progressive, manufactured elements of modern culture.

This 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 Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which will be on view only at this venue. The exhibition is organized by Alison Hearst, assistant curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is coordinating the exhibition in Washington, D.C. The museum is the third stop on a five-city national tour for the exhibition.

The exhibition catalog, published by Prestel, will be available for purchase in the museum store ($49.95).

Artist Talk
Thursday, June 1, at 6 p.m. in the museum’s McEvoy Auditorium.

“Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings” is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The presentation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is generously supported by Elizabeth Broun, the Gene Davis Memorial Fund and the James F. Dicke Family Endowment.

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About the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.

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