First Reveal: George Condo’s ‘Sketches of Jean Louis’

Few artists have dedicated their careers as singularly to one genre as George Condo has to portraiture. ‘Sketches of Jean Louis’ is an exceptional example of his cherished black-and-white portraits. Charlotte Raybaud, our head of evening sale in Hong Kong, explains the mysterious figure behind the work.

Few artists have dedicated their careers as singularly to one genre as George Condo has to portraiture. ‘Sketches of Jean Louis’ is an exceptional example of his cherished black-and-white portraits. Charlotte Raybaud, our head of evening sale in Hong Kong, explains the mysterious figure behind the work.

George Condo, Sketches of Jean Louis, 2006. Estimate HK$10,000,000 - 15,000,000. 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong.

Recognized as one of the most inventive and prolific artists of his generation, George Condo has exhibited extensively throughout his career. His work is housed in many prestigious collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

 

 

Created in 2006, Sketches of Jean Louis is a quintessential example of the “artificial realism” philosophy that Condo pioneered in the late 1980s and has applied to his portraits of metaphysical mannequins ever since. Defined as the realistic representation of that which is artificial, the philosophy is central to Condo’s work, guiding his construction of mythic heroes whose imagined lives serve as a mirror for human nature, providing a fanciful recreation of our contemporary world.

What is Jean Louis? Is he a waiter, a chef, a driver? Is he a real person?

His most frequent icon is Jean Louis, is a fictitious French character often presented as a butler, maid, chef or banker. His depiction nods to both a kaleidoscopic array of art historical references whilst also feeling conspicuously contemporary. In the past, Condo has playfully said the question is not “who is Jean Louis” but “what is Jean Louis.”

Condo’s distinct aesthetic is the result of his standing at the intersection of several major art movements. At the age of 21, he was an assistant in Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he befriended other New York artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel. Their influence can be traced in Condo’s scrawling, bold lines and adroit understanding of texture.

 

 

Discover More from 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Sale >

Recommended Reading

The Legendary Origins of a 'Grecque' Table Lamp > 

NFTs, Past and Future >