George Condo - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, May 17, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    As an artist, George Condo has long maintained deep-seeded ideals about the pictures he paints. Borne out of the 1980s, Condo was largely responsible for the resurgence of painted canvases, along with Basquiat, Haring, and various other East Village painters. Yet, similar to the work of his contemporaries, Condo’s art was a collision of old masters and new ideas, where classically painted figures bore the grotesque faces of psychological confusion. Condo’s signature faces—he coined the term “artificial realism” to describe an accurate portrayal of the artificial—give the viewer insight into the inner workings of the subject, where sex, humor, and horror all meet in a stunning dissolution of the viewer’s comfort and expectations.

    The present lot, German Nights, 2003, presents as its subject a satisfied recipient of lovemaking, standing centrally before the observer, her robe unabashedly swept open to reveal her bare torso. What makes this particular woman unique in Condo’s oeuvre is not her unassuming nudity or full frontal portraiture, but rather the curiously elusive nature of her facial expression, her contorted mouth and chin caught somewhere in between peace and longing. Her bulbous nose and straggly hair gives us the impression that we have awoken her from her slumber, perhaps too early for a full night’s rest. Condo’s serene background, a pastiche of the night sky at both emerging dawn and impending dusk, creates a color palette similar to that of the Italian Masters, the dark greens giving way to the excellent crimson drapery work of the subject’s gown. In the end, we witness a very human specimen willing to give us a glimpse into her inner psychology, which she lies bare for us to see. It is a scene hilarious, somewhat melancholy and just a tad unsettling: a perfect embodiment of Condo’s artistic project.

  • 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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German Nights

oil on canvas
40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm.)
Signed, titled, dated, and inscribed “German Nights Condo 03 NYC" along the overlap.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 17 May 2013 10am