George Condo - New Now New York Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Steven Lieber Gallery, San Francisco
    Private Collection, Portland
    Christie's, New York, February 24, 1993, lot 163
    James Corcoran Gallery, Santa Monica
    Estate of H. Marc Moyens
    Christie's, New York, February 28, 2007, lot 326
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Washington D.C., The Katzen Arts Center, American University, Remembering Marc and Komei, January 18 - March 12, 2006

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot by George Condo, one of today’s most celebrated contemporary painters, is a stunning example from the artist’s earliest body of work, illustrating the most important art historical influences on his prolific oeuvre. Highlighted in both the present work’s title and composition, the effects of Surrealism on the artist’s early 1980s paintings are indisputable. This work, titled Surrealist Landscape, 1983 offers a unique look at Condo’s early experimentation with realistically painted subjects with no basis in reality, begun in his East Village studio, so informed by the earliest pioneers of the Surrealist movement including René Magritte and Salvador Dalí. Indeed, the symbolism in the present lot recalls some of these artists’ most famous masterpieces. An early twilight sky with low, nebulous clouds is placed above a landscape with deep, nighttime shadows, recalling the paradox of day, night and dusk explored in works by Magritte. In the foreground, the seemingly unrelated subjects recall the personified objects of melting clocks and humanized tree trunks found in Dalí’s paintings—a marble bust in the center is flanked by a large carrot-like tree and a red mushroom-like button to its left, and flaming furnaces to the right, all placed atop a green field. The whole composition is made even more mysterious by the presence of an ominous dark form in the lower right corner, highlighting the uncertainty of the scene. Surrealist Landscape predates Condo’s move to Paris in 1985 by just two years, where he would come face to face with post-modern movements taking hold in the later part of the 20th century, in turn evolving the aesthetic explored in the present lot to one dominated by abstraction, characterized by multiple perspectives and biomorphic forms.
    Of Condo’s early works, Roberta Smith aptly stated their effect in a review of one of his earliest exhibitions in 1988, before the artist received the international acclaim he has achieved today: “In a sense, Mr. Condo makes things that look like paintings, that have the presence, completeness and frontal tautness of paintings, yet in some essential way are not so much paintings as artifacts, signs of another time and place, layered thickly with talent and nostalgia and a particularly dandyish form of conservatism. These artifacts are, at times, also extremely smart Conceptual objects.” (Roberta Smith, “Review/Art; Condo Creates a Future With Layers of Nostalgia”, The New York Times, March 25, 1988, online) Undeniably, the present lot is an important example of Condo’s emphasis on and respect for the modernist past, a predecessor to the artist’s later abstract portraits for which he would become known. As such, the work occupies a distinctive moment in Condo’s practice when he was relying solely on his knowledge of the art historical trajectory as it was just beginning to shape the post-modern sphere, providing an intimate look at the very start of what would be a long and successful career for the artist.

  • Artist Biography

    George Condo


    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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Surrealist Landscape

signed and dated "Condo G. '83" lower left; further signed with the artist's initials "GC." on the reverse
oil on canvas
35 1/2 x 47 1/2 in. (90.2 x 120.7 cm.)
Painted in 1983.

$180,000 - 220,000 

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Sam Mansour
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
New York
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New Now

New York Auction 26 September 2018