Donald Sultan (American, b.1951) is a painter best known for his massive still lifes and landscapes, and noted for his use of abstracted black forms against areas of bright color. Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Sultan grew up in the mountains, and became familiar with Appalachian folk art traditions. After receiving his BFA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Sultan moved to Chicago to earn his MA from the Art Institute of Chicago.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Sultan began to paint using industrial materials, including vinyl, linoleum, and masonite, juxtaposing his traditional subject matter with unusual materials. These works often involve creating layers of tar and rubber on top of slabs of linoleum or masonite, which are then stripped away in pieces to reveal the multiple surfaces beneath, which are then painted over. The finished works combine a Minimalist aesthetic of few colors and geometric shapes with a highly unique treatment and destruction of surface. In addition to his paintings, Sultan has collaborated with friend and writer David Mamet (American, b.1947) on the illustrated novel Bar Mitzvah (1999).