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  • Woman in a Red Armchair is one of the paintings that has most influenced me. It led me to reconsider how the human figure could be constructed by using the methods of the old masters, and then radicalising that language by introducing contemporary images from my own imagination. — George Condo

     

    George Condo’s singular voice has been a cornerstone of American and European art for almost three decades. Emerging out of the dynamism of the early 1980s New York art scene, Condo developed a unique and provocative painting style, with his self-styled “fake old masters'' borrowing the virtuoso draftsmanship and paint handling of the Old Masters to depict the fantastical subjects of Condo’s imagination. Developing a reputation as the heir to Picasso, Condo’s exceptionally prolific body of work draws on inspiration as diverse as Diego Velázquez, Pop art and graffiti.

     

    Inspired by a course on Baroque and Rococo painting during his studies, Condo spent a year studying Old Master glazing techniques in Los Angeles and upon relocating to New York worked as a printer for Andy Warhol. He exhibited at the Pat Hearn Gallery alongside radical painters such as Mary Heilmann and Philip Taaffe, and became close friends with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Over the next two decades, he explored an astonishing variety of aesthetic styles, from Mannerism to Cubism, demonstrating a limitless knowledge of art history and popular culture.

     

    Condo’s Woman on Red Chair pays tribute to Picasso’s masterpiece Woman in a Red Armchair (1932). During the mid-1920s Picasso's representations of the female form began to manifest aggressively distorted and contorted forms, a change partially explained by the artist's changing personal circumstances. Emerging tensions in Picasso's marriage to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova coincided with the rise of the Surrealist movement and its emphasis on metamorphosis. Picasso’s ability to create a sense of spatial and emotional dislocation prefigured Condo’s brand of ‘Psychological Cubism’, showcased at its best in Woman on Red Chair. Instead of space being his sole subject, Condo seeks to simultaneously capture all facets of someone’s emotional potentialities in one moment, creating portraits of invented characters which are ‘composites of various psychological states painted in different ways’. A neoclassical beauty demurely seated with her hands folded in her lap, the face of Condo’s subject is overshadowed by a momentary spasm of the malevolent.

     

    Picasso Woman in a Red Armchair
    Pablo Picasso, Woman in a Red Armchair 1932, oil paint on canvas, 144 x 112 cm
    © Succession Picasso/DACS 2018, courtesy Musée Picasso

     

    Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological. Four of them can occur simultaneously. Like glimpsing a bus with one passenger howling over a joke theyre hearing down the phone, someone else asleep, someone else crying Ill put them all in one face. [1]

     

    Writing about Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair for the Tate, Condo explained the overriding primacy of Picasso’s pioneering spirit on his own artistic practice:

     

    I believe Picassos greatest influence on me has nothing to do with his actual paintings, because they are, I think, untouchable. It is rather his way of thinking the freedom of his approach to imagery, and its further potential. This has liberated me from the historical placement, or chronological order, of time, revealing the infinite possibilities of an interchangeable sense of time on the journey towards a new plastic form, one realised by the appearance of a presence from an original source. This process of transforming or reassembling a new image from the parts and pieces of a works initial material form is, I believe, key to understanding that works relativity and its influence in art. [2]

     

    [1] George Condo, quoted in Stuart Jeffries, ‘George Condo: “I was delirious. Nearly died”’, The Guardian, 10 February 2014, online

    [2] George Condo, ‘Picasso's Woman in a Red Armchair 1932: An appreciation by fellow artist George Condo’, Tate Etc, 7 March 2018, online

    • Provenance

      Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Saint-Moritz
      Collection of Ellen and Michael Ringier, Switzerland
      Galerie Skarstedt, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      George Condo

      American • 1957

      Few artists have dedicated their careers as singularly to one genre as George Condo has to that of portraiture. He is drawn to the endless inquiries posed by the aesthetics and formal considerations of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters. Emerging on the New York art scene in the 1980s alongside contemporaries such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo developed a distinctive visual lexicon that is unmistakably his own. 

      Student to Warhol, friend to Basquiat and collaborator with William S. Burroughs, Condo tracked a different path. The artist frequently cites Picasso as a predominant influence in his contemporary cubist compositions and joyous use of paint. Condo is known for postmodernist compositions staked in wit and the grotesque, which draw the eye into a highly imaginary world. 

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Property from an Important European Private Collection

193

Woman on Red Chair

signed and dated 'Condo 07' on the reverse
oil on canvas
76.5 x 61 cm. (30 1/8 x 24 in.)
Painted in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$2,500,000 - 3,000,000 
€264,000-317,000
$321,000-385,000

Sold for HK$4,788,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021