George Condo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in July 1989

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1989, Gold Nude is a compelling early example of George Condo’s iconoclastic take on the female nude. Gold Nude depicts a naked woman sitting cross-legged with arms akimbo, framed by viscous, dripping gold paint, a miniature halo of short green brushstrokes circling her head. Created while Condo was a student in Paris beginning to solidify his mature pictorial vocabulary, the present work takes up this theme vis-à-vis Picasso and Matisse, synthesizing the lessons of modernist masters with his own virtuoso painterly technique.

    The exaggeratedly small scale of the woman’s head anticipates Condo’s seminal Antipodes series of the late 1990s and 2000s, which feature geometric, distorted figures characterized by bulging eyes and shrunken heads, ciphers for witty commentary on the nature of alienation and disconnection in contemporary life. Similarly, the carnivalesque disposition of arms and breasts evokes Picasso’s approach to the female form. As such, Gold Nude prefigures Condo’s revolutionary approach to Cubism in his mature portraiture, in the form of the pictorial language he calls “psychological cubism”. As Condo explained “I don’t want to simply look at Picasso on the wall or read about Picasso, I want to actually paint through him… I want to paint that understanding” (George Condo, quoted in Thomas Kellein, “Interview with George Condo 2004”, George Condo: 100 Women, exh. cat., Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, p. 34).

    The thickly outlined figure and saturated gold ground also suggest a source of inspiration in Matisse’s iconic semi-abstract nudes of the early 1900s, which represented the first instances of anti-naturalistic color being used in otherwise classical iterations of the female nude. In Gold Nude, Condo shares in his predecessor’s sense of profound reverence for the figure, exemplified here by the archaic simplicity of the body and sumptuous beauty of the gilded canvas. With its skillful execution and deft referentialism, Gold Nude is a masterful example of Condo’s early entries into a time-honored theme that he continues to explore to this day.

  • 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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Property from a Distinguished Midwestern Collection


Gold Nude

signed "Condo" lower right
oil on canvas
78 5/8 x 70 7/8 in. (199.7 x 180 cm.)
Painted in 1989.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $312,500

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 450 Park Avenue