Accession Number


Donald Sultan

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
aquatint on Arches paper

19 5/16 x 19 15/16 in. (49 x 50.5 cm);22 3/16 x 22 5/16 in. (56.2 x 56.52 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Herbert Barrows

Label copy
A painting is a kind of magic object, Donald Sultan has said. "It radiates something that demands that you pay attention to it, whether you know anything about art or not. That’s what’s magic about paintings; nobody can explain it, and nothing else really has it." Emerging on the art scene in the late 1970s, Sultan’s career skyrocketed during the early 1980s. Coming from the age of Minimalism and Conceptualism, his work defies both categorizations. Instead, his insistence upon recognizable imagery has put him somewhat apart from many other art practitioners of his generation. His use of untraditional materials in his large-scaled painted works has also separated him from other artists. Like other artists, Sultan has used still life elements (lemon, flowers) as well as objects from everyday life (boats, buttons, dominoes) as his subjects.
Freesia comes from a portfolio of six aquatints, all of which are printed in black on white paper. Each image shows a sharp-edged silhouette of the freesia flower, seen with its sinuous curving stalks. Their evocation of nineteenth-century silhouette drawings links them to a past time and at the same time the work looks at the weighty but equal emphasis on both the positive and negative areas of the image. Fragile yet monumental, these flower forms are at once geometric and organic.
Sean M. Ulmer, University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for "A Matter of Degree: Abstraction in Twentieth-Century Art," November 10, 2001 - January 27, 2002

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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