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  • Provenance

    Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

  • Exhibited

    Brussels, Xavier Hufkens, George Condo: Existential Portraits, 2006

  • Literature

    G. Condo, ed., George Condo: Existential Portraits, Berlin, 2006, p. 85 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Large Reclining Smoker, 2005, definitively represents George Condo’s fictional portraiture of quirky, colorful characters born of his own unique imagination. In the 1980s, as a then emerging painter, he created his signature style: Artificial Realism. Large Reclining Smoker, 2005, is one theatrical painting from the Existential Portraits series, 2005-2006. Condo’s highly pitched portraits exude bizarre sensualities; shifting visual planes and distorted figurative forms, locating Condo with a longstanding tradition of portraiture, which includes Pablo Picasso and Francis Picabia. The figures betray little of their psyche, but nevertheless mesmerize us with their unorthodox suggestiveness.

    Large Reclining Smoker, 2005, depicts what may be a jaded and terrifying vaudevillian. Darkly comedic, the subject’s voluptuous form, positioning,
    and proportions are reminiscent of the eternal Venus, yet her grotesque rendering—her shrunken skull and hirsute arms—hint at the warped being
    behind a buxom exterior. Despite this character’s intimidating presence, there exists a tender vulnerability; a complex balance that is representative of the
    dichotomy of appearance and deep truth. Investigating further, the elements of Condo’s foreground speak less to a lavish bedchamber, as is the norm for
    the historical reclining nude, and more to the confines of a barren cell. In Large Reclining Smoker, 2005, Condo’s brilliance manifests itself in the space between
    beauty and horror, between reality and artifice.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Large Reclining Smoker

2005
oil on canvas
65 x 60 in. (165.1 x 152.4 cm)
Signed and dated “Condo 05” upper left. Also signed, titled, and dated “Condo 05 Large Reclining Smoker” on the reverse.

Estimate
$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $458,500

Contemporary Art Part I

7 November 2011
New York