George Condo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • George Condo’s Take Yourself Away, 1985, references both the canons of Pop Art and Cubism, while reflecting the artist’s manipulation of Old Master traditions. Through his own unique American abstract style, Condo resists aesthetic categorization. Rather than align himself with figuration or abstraction, the artist has self-declared his style that of “artificial realism” – a term he coined around the same time that the present work was executed. Today, Condo is regarded as one of the most successful contemporary painters and Take Yourself Away offers a glimpse into the early stages of his development as an artist. Depicting a mosaic of figments from his own imagination, the work captures the energy of the art scene in 1980s downtown New York.

    “I created the term ‘artificial realism’ back in the late ‘80s. That idea about representing reality, but reality being a construct of man-made appearances.”
    —George Condo

    Condo’s friendships with fellow painters Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1980s New York encouraged him to explore and pioneer his own distinct visual language. Such is what French philosopher Felix Guattari has coined the “Condo effect.” This idea stems from the artist’s way of upending familiar schema while illustrating cartoonish, un-real figures, presenting the viewer with objects that are at once familiar and foreign. The dramatically stylized figures in the present work possess exaggerated features, such as bulbous noses, elongated necks and discolored faces. The disproportioned figures seem to have been created through a stream-of-consciousness style, as their bodies and faces shift into different elements within the vibrant and slightly chaotic scene. The narrow, vertical canvas on which the figures are placed emphasizes this cartoonish rendering, exaggerating each form and shifting more and more towards the absurd.


    A detail of the present work.

    Created just after his “Expanding Canvases” series of the 1980s in which the artist would start at the center of the canvas and work his way outwards, filling the space with figures and symbols, the present work incorporates Cubist undertones with disfigured faces, clocks and musical notes that swirl and bend into one another. This dynamic and varied perspective is a direct result of Condo incorporating elements of jazz into his works. The artist would play records by artists such as Miles Davis when embarking upon his compositions, as if he himself was being taken away by the music, as the title of the present work suggests.


    Influenced jointly by the Old Masters and the Cubist styles of Picasso and Braque, Condo employs many of the same techniques as his predecessors in Take Yourself Away. This work also resembles the fantastical scenes of Hieronymous Bosch—works Condo was well-acquainted with having studied Old Master glazing techniques in Los Angeles years before, and traveling to Europe throughout the course of the 1980s, first in 1983. European traditions were extremely important in informing Condo’s working method and compositions, and throughout his career, he would continue to engage with the work of his art historical predecessors abroad. Take Yourself Away was created the same year that the artist moved to Paris for a full decade, not returning to New York until 1995, a move which would be very impactful in the artist’s life.


    Hieronymus Bosch, Saint James and the Magician Hermogenes; an Antonine Prior. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes.Image: © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY
    • Provenance

      Gladstone Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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


Take Yourself Away

signed and dated "Condo 85" upper left
oil on canvas
75 3/4 x 37 1/2 in. (192.4 x 95.3 cm)
Painted in 1985.

Full Cataloguing

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $482,600

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023