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Donald Sultan, 12 Colors, 2007. Courtesy of Mary Ryan Gallery, Inc.

Donald Sultan: Poppies

Though Donald Sultan portrayed a variety of flowers throughout his career, the Pop artist is most celebrated for his pared-down poppies. These flowers epitomize the Pop art aesthetic: simplified, graphic, and easy to reproduce. To create his poppies, Sultan revived the dated tradition of Western still life painting and combined it with cutting-edge and intensive techniques using hot tar, spackle, and Masonite. Flowers, which often represent fragility and beauty, are realized in harsh industrial materials completely at odds with the subject matter. “The best art contains paradox, whether visual or narrative,” Donald Sultan once explained, and his poppies are a quintessential example of this artistic philosophy.

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