Black Standing Figures

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
    Artcurial, Paris, 21 April 2009, Lot 366
    PaceWildenstein, New York
    Private Collection
    Christie’s, London, 17 February 2011, Lot 266
    Simon Lee Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    George Condo’s Black Standing Figures engulfs the viewer: stretching over two metres wide and nearly life-sized in height, this large-scale painting is like a wall filled with frenetic graffiti. Painted in 2000, this work appears largely black and white from a distance, yet there is an immense variety of texture and an impressive range of colour on closer inspection, as the scrawled figures reveal themselves to have been rendered using a wide variety of techniques. This palimpsest-like composition recalls the energy of the paintings of Condo’s friends and fellow artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, whom he knew during his years in New York in the 1980s. At the same time, it pays tribute to Brassaï’s celebrated photographs of the street art incised in the walls of mid-twentieth-century Paris. Condo’s ability to cannibalise a range of artistic and conceptual influences, transforming them into something new, is a hallmark of his work.

    An incredibly erudite artist, Condo abandoned the New York of Haring and Basquiat, instead choosing to spend a number of years in Paris, immersed in the wealth of the European canon and tradition of visual culture. These he absorbed, eventually processing them and imbuing them with the new, vigorous energy that is so apparent in Black Standing Figures. Condo has depicted these massed figures with a manic edge that is heightened by the fragmentary, elusive appearance of the people themselves: here, a hand is glimpsed, there, hair, elsewhere, breasts, all coalescing to give the impression of a crowd facing us. Condo depicts this crowd with disjointed and distorted features in a manner that recalls his now-iconic ‘pods,’ or ‘antipodal beings’, a notion taken from Aldous Huxley’s work Heaven and Hell. There, Huxley discussed the ability to access the ‘antipodes’, areas of the mind reached through meditation or hallucinogens. Certainly, looking at Black Standing Figures, there is a clear sense of hallucinatory power to the image. Condo has introduced a new, raw mentality to the work, continuing the distortions of the ‘psychological Cubism’ he has explored in other paintings.

    Stylistically, Black Standing Figures appears to compress a range of influences. As well as the graffiti of Haring or the paintings of Matta, there is a clear tribute to Pablo Picasso, and in particular to the works of the post-war period when he was in a relationship with fellow artist Françoise Gilot. There is a resemblance in the strong use of lines to carve up and cover the space of the canvas that relates to Picasso’s 1948 painting, La cuisine (Museum of Modern Art, New York). That work in itself was inspired by an earlier proposal for a sculpture to be created as a monument to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. The figures in Condo’s work also recall the depictions of Françoise herself, for instance the Femme-Fleur depictions showing her as a flower. Condo has taken a similar transformative process as Picasso’s, yet has given it a new spin. This picture has a deliberately sinister edge that has little to do, in terms of atmosphere, with the fauns and satyrs that Picasso painted in a similar style in Antibes in the post-war years. Instead, there is the sense that these characters have sprung fully-formed from the darker recesses of the mind.

    Discussing his own work, Condo has said: ‘I like to think about Picasso… because he took a bicycle seat and a pair of handlebars and made a bull’s head: he reconfigured a manmade thing into a natural thing. What I’ve done is the reverse: I’ve turned it back into the bicycle’ (Condo, quoted in S. Baker, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, London, 2015, p. 47). Condo has created something that is emphatically manmade. Not only that, its surface insists upon the viewer’s awareness of the impressive variety of techniques that have been employed to harness the image. There is a clear focus on the notion of image-making itself. In some of Condo’s paintings, the focus is on a lone figure or small group, often referencing the Old Masters. Black Standing Figures forms part of another approach that he has taken in a number of works, which feature an all-over composition. This was a process that Condo began in another work, Diaries of Milan of 1984, now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Over the years, he has sometimes returned to this process, filling the entirety of the canvas with a figurative composition that essentially becomes a pattern through its rhythm and regularity, harnessing an energy akin to that of Action Painting while remaining anchored to the image of the crowd. In Black Standing Figures, Condo has thus achieved abstract ends through figurative ends.

  • Catalogue Essay

    喬治‧康多的《黑色站姿人物》迎面而來:兩米多寬,真人般高,如同一堵又寬又高的墻,無邊無際,塗鴉交錯縱橫,佈滿整幅畫面。這幅作品作於2000年,遠處觀望,色彩大部分為黑白,凝神近看,會發現畫作的質地由多種元素組成;不僅如此,色彩頗為多樣,令人驚歎。畫面上的人,寥寥草草,向觀眾們透露畫作本身是由不同的創作手法組成的。《黑色站姿人物》交匯融合了不同的畫風,讓人不禁聯想尚‧米榭‧巴斯奇亞和凱斯‧哈林的作品。這兩位畫家是康多於80年代期間在紐約結交的朋友。《黑色站姿人物》也是向布拉塞致敬之作,紀念他的著名攝影作品:捕捉二十世紀中法國街頭巷尾墻壁上的街頭藝術。康多的作品個性獨特,最為令人稱奇的是這位畫家可以將有一定跨度且不同的藝術行為和概念,以及它們影響整合在其作品之中,創造出一種全新的藝術體驗。

    康多是一位非凡的畫家,多才多藝。他離開了在當時以哈林和巴斯奇亞為主導的紐約藝術圈,隻身前往巴黎,一待就是好些年,深受歐洲傳統文化以及視覺藝術的熏陶。最終,他將自己認識和體驗到的一切以一種全新的姿態在作品《黑色站姿人物》如栩如生地向世人娓娓道來。康多以誇張的手法將人群在畫面上表現出來,誇張的程度似乎有些瘋狂。畫中人物,支離破碎,虛無縹緲:這兒冒出來一隻手,那兒冒出來幾束頭髮,又不知道在什麼地方露出乳房。人物肢體糾結在一起,我們就好像面對一群人,雜亂無章,熙熙攘攘。康多將畫中人物的形象特徵分離扭曲, 令人想起阿道司‧郝胥黎在其著作《天堂與地獄》提出的具有標緻性的現代理念:「極限」,或「無限」 。這本書涉及了郝胥黎對於人的意識進入「無限」性的討論。「無限」是一種人在冥想或是迷幻藥的影響下才可達致的境界。不可置否,《黑色站姿人物》魔力彰顯,朦朧迷幻。康多在這幅作品中注入了嶄新的藝術思維模式,不但如此,他一如既往,繼續發掘探索「精神病立體派」的多種變形。

    《黑色站姿人物》受多方面藝術風格影響。作品除了體現哈林的塗鴉和馬塔作品的畫風,還明顯带有巴布羅‧畢加索畫作的蹤影,尤其戰後畢加索與女藝術家弗朗索瓦絲‧吉洛在戀愛關係中畫出的作品的風格。《黑色站姿人物》與畢加索1948年的作品《菜餚》(現藏紐約現代藝術博物館)有著幾分神似,兩幅作品均被粗重的線條覆蓋。《黑色站姿人物》的創作靈感源自康多早期的一件用來紀念詩人紀堯姆‧阿波利泰爾的雕塑作品。康多畫上的人物讓人們聯想到弗朗索瓦絲,畢加索的作品《女人﹣花朵》將弗朗索瓦絲畫成了一束花。和畢加索一樣,康多在自己的作品中也運用了類似的影射,變革畫風;不但如此,還附上新的意義。《黑色站姿人物》,絲絲陰險,但是它絕不是為了刻意營造畢加索在戰後於昂蒂斯所畫作品的氣氛,故意模仿其中牧神和薩蒂爾的形象。《黑色站姿人物》的人物形象更像由人類思想意識的更深層中成型。

    在談及自己的作品時,康多表示:「我喜歡思考畢加索……他將自行車坐墊和把手組合在一起,做成牛頭:將人工製造的物件搖身一變,變得猶如自然生成。而我做的,卻恰恰相反:將自然生成的事物逆反,變成如自行車一般人工製作生成的產物」(康多原話,摘自2015年於倫敦發行西蒙‧貝克著《喬治‧康多:重組畫作》第47頁)。顯然,康多的作品是人工製造的。不但如此,畫面強調的是觀眾們是否意識到畫作是由多種不同的繪畫技巧構造完成的。康多的作品明顯強調的是畫作本身的作畫技巧。在他的一部分作品當中, 會將注意力集中在某個人或是某小組人物身上,與歐洲早期繪畫大師的作品有所共通。和康多部分作品一樣,《黑色站姿人物》將畫布填滿,以另一種姿態展現在世人眼前。正如康多的另一幅作品《1984米蘭日記》,現藏紐約現代藝術博物館。年復一年,康多有時會再次將畫布填滿,佈滿人物,繞有興味,如抽象潑灑畫派一般鏗鏘,同時亦不失對於人物群組的細緻描寫。作品《黑色站姿人物》,康多用具象表達了抽象的情懷。

  • Artist Bio

    George Condo

    American • 1957

    Picasso once said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." Indeed, American artist George Condo frequently cites Picasso as an explicit source in his contemporary cubist compositions and joyous use of paint. Condo is known for neo-Modernist compositions staked in wit and the grotesque, which draw the eye into a highly imaginary world. 

    Condo came up in the New York art world at a time when art favored brazen innuendo and shock. Student to Warhol, best friend to Basquiat and collaborator with William S. Burroughs, Condo tracked a different path. He was drawn to the endless inquiries posed by the aesthetics and formal considerations of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters.

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Property of an Important European Collector

Black Standing Figures

2000
oil, acrylic, oilstick and chalk on canvas
152.4 x 254 cm. (60 x 100 in.)
Executed in 2000.

Estimate
HK$6,500,000 - 8,500,000 
€699,000-915,000
$833,000-1,090,000

sold for HK$7,540,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department
+852 2318 2011

Sandy Ma
Head of Sale
+852 2318 2025

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2018