George Condo - 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, July 2, 2020 | Phillips

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  • In Short


    “What’s possible with painting that’s not in real life is you can see two or three sides of a personality at the same time”
    – George Condo

  • Spotlight

    Drawing inspiration from the breadth of the art historical canon—from Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres to Diego Velázquez—George Condo has honed a singular painterly aesthetic. He coined the terms “artificial realism” and “psychological cubism” to describe the postmodern hybridization of myriad art historical references in his works, which, over the past four decades, have manifested as a band of imagined characters who provide a mirror from which the complexities of human nature come into view. His single greatest influence, however, is indisputably Pablo Picasso.  


    “I don’t want to simply look at Picasso on the wall or read about Picasso… 

    Condo studied the modernist’s work as a young painter while living in Paris in the late 1980s and early 1990s, absorbing much of the Cubist master’s syntax—both in technique and in composition. Like Picasso, Condo sought to reinvigorate portraiture through the process of dismantling and putting back together, with the somewhat counterintuitive goal of more accurately—or fully—representing his subject. In Stump Head, Condo pays homage to his artistic idol not only in style and in form—but also in the figure’s striped top, which is most probably a nod to Picasso’s signature Breton shirt. “I don’t want to simply look at Picasso on the wall or read about Picasso,” Condo mused, “I want to actually paint through him, I want to paint into Picasso.”[i]

    Pablo Picasso, Le Marin, 1938, Museum Berggruen, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Photo credit: bpk Bildagentur / Museum Berggruen / Jens Ziehe/ Art Resource, NY, Artwork © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    ...I want to actually paint through him, I want to paint into Picasso” – George Condo

    Andy Warhol photographed on the fire escape of The Factory in Manhattan, New York, circa 1965-1967.

    As is standard for Condo’s work, however, within Stump Head is an implicit irony and humor. By incorporating the striped shirt, a motif so closely associated with Picasso (and later Andy Warhol), and titling the work Stump Head—a reference to someone who is unskilled or dimwitted—Condo’s homage to his greatest idol is both earnest and playful. It is precisely by poking fun at the canonical parameters of portraiture seen in the present work—such as the traditional three-quarter view, monochromatic backdrop, and monumental scale—that Condo is able to topple them, inviting a new and rigorous interrogation of the potentiality of the traditional genre in the 21st century. 

    Whimsical yet crude, Stump Head illustrates the manifold psychological states of Condo’s subject. Donning the artist’s signature distorted features—a bulbous nose, protruding ears, gnarly teeth, and a head that fuses into the body below—Condo’s figure is at once revolting and endearing. “Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological states. Four of them can occur simultaneously. Like glimpsing a bus with one passenger howling over a joke they're hearing down the phone, someone else asleep, someone else crying – I'll put them all in one face.”[ii]


    [i] George Condo, quoted in Thomas Kellein, “Interview with George Condo 2004,” George Condo: 100 Women, exh. cat., Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, 2005, p. 34.
    [ii] George Condo quoted in Stuart Jeffries, “George Condo: ‘I was delirious. Nearly died,’” The Guardian, February 10, 2014, online.  
    • Provenance

      Luhring Augustine, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010

    • Exhibited

      Moscow, National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Mystifiers, February 12 - March 20, 2016, pp. 15, 40 (illustrated, p. 41; installation view illustrated, pp. 9, 10)

    • 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.

      View More Works

Property from a European Private Collection


Stump Head

signed, titled and dated “Condo 09 Stump Head” on the reverse
oil on canvas
85 x 75 in. (215.9 x 190.5 cm)
Painted in 2009.

Full Cataloguing

$900,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,050,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 2 July 2020