George Condo - New Now New York Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Phillips

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    Widely recognized as one of the most inventive and prolific artists of his generation, George Condo has dedicated his career to portraiture. White + Grey Composition from 1989 depicts a figure with comically distorted proportions, representing themes of ecstasy, performance and surprise that are central to Condo’s practice. The figure’s flattened face dons a bulbous chin, he wears a cartoonishly small hat, a monocle sits atop his nose, and a pipe sticks out from his mouth’s side. By incorporating elements of caricature and illustration techniques into his paintings, Condo continuously recontextualizes his work in a contemporary fine art setting.

    "Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological states. […] 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." —George Condo

    Widely recognized as one of the most inventive and prolific artists of his generation, George Condo has dedicated his career to portraiture. White + Grey Composition from 1989 depicts a figure with comically distorted proportions, representing themes of ecstasy, performance and surprise that are central to Condo’s practice. The figure’s flattened face dons a bulbous chin, he wears a cartoonishly small hat, a monocle sits atop his nose, and a pipe sticks out from his mouth’s side. By incorporating elements of caricature and illustration techniques into his paintings, Condo continuously recontextualizes his work in a contemporary fine art setting.


    Condo's style is an amalgamation of his experiences, both domestically and abroad. When he was 21 years old, he assisted at Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he would meet fellow New York artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Julian Schnabel. Each of these artists clearly share a devotion to heavy linework, gestural portraiture and violent paint application that is characteristic of neo-expressionism. In the same year White + Grey Composition was executed, Condo travelled for the first time to Europe, where he was influenced by the German “Neue Wilde” – a neo-expressionism movement championed by artists including Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer, characterized by intense color and quick, broad brushstrokes that are apparent here.

     

    Pablo Picasso, Buste d’homme, 1970 https://www.pablo-ruiz-picasso.net/work-362.php
    Pablo Picasso, Buste d’homme, 1970. Artwork: © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

    Acting in contrast to his contemporaries, however, was Condo’s unique ability to incorporate Old Master techniques into his work. White + Grey Composition, with its subject centrally located in three quarters’ profile, recalls the works of Rembrandt and Reusch, yet depicted in a fresh, unseen world of abstraction. In a similar vein to Pablo Picasso, who subverted Old Master technique to represent different “facets” of emotion that could not be represented otherwise, George Condo's exquisite craft is effectively timeless.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Christie's, New York, May 4, 1994, lot 404
      Acquired at the above sale 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

130

White + Grey Composition

signed and dated "Condo 89" lower right; signed, titled, inscribed and dated "Condo 89.12 Paris "white + grey" composition" on the reverse
oil on canvas, in artist's frame
canvas 32 x 25 5/8 in. (81.3 x 65.1 cm)
artist's frame 41 x 35 in. (104.1 x 88.9 cm)

Painted in 1989.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $289,800

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207
[email protected]

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2022