George Condo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Pace Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989

  • Literature

    A. Bonney, "Interview: George Condo", Bomb, no. 40, Summer, 1992 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    George Condo bridges early 20th century Cubism with thematic undercurrents intrinsic to the contemporary context in which he works. It is this interplay that forms his visually arresting compositions that have become so iconic. Renowned for his portrait paintings, Condo’s grotesque and jeering faces draw on the multifaceted nature of humanity, displaying internal dark characteristics externally for viewers to scrutinize. Though Condo’s paintings show stylistic connotations to popular culture, his works are undoubtedly grounded in a deep art historical comprehension. Perhaps most consistently, the artist’s own references to some of the pioneers of 20th century modernism come to the fore, and of these Picasso is the undisputed protagonist for Condo. Referring to his own compositions as psychological cubism or artificial realism, his paintings visualize many sides of his sitters just as Picasso propagated during his cubist period. Rather than merely portraying aesthetic appearances from many angles, Condo employs multiple viewpoints to uncover his sitter’s myriad of emotional undercurrents. In his paintings from the 1980s, the connection between Picasso’s paintings and his own rises to the fore as certain motifs and subjects draw more distinct parallels. In such a context, Seated Figure with Towel, 1989 is an eloquent example of Condo’s fascination with Cubism’s trajectory.

    Employing a visual language so clearly indebted to Picasso, Seated Figure with Towel incorporates one of the artist’s favorite motifs, the female nude. Emulating Picasso’s fractured style where fluid lines and simplified three-dimensional forms are united to create a lyrical impression of a human body, Condo seats his figure on a throne-like chair. The work opens a dialogue with Picasso’s compositions such as Large Nude in a Red Armchair, 1929 where a disconcerting and eerie effect is formed by the grotesque distortion and elongation of the figure’s limbs and gaping mouth. In a similar manner, Condo inverts and stretched his sitter’s body; however, the stylistic congruity in Picasso’s piece is altogether lost in the latter’s. Condo includes the angular dissecting lines of Picasso’s analytic Cubism, together with the fluid approach of his later compositions mingled with a section of almost monochromatic flatness. The amalgamation of these many stylistic strands signals Condo’s wish to create a painting that pays homage to Picasso’s eclectic oeuvre. Seated Figure with Towel stands as a contemporary tour de force, one that expresses Condo’s ability to admire and re-interpret a historical masterpiece.

  • 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

Property from a Private Collection, Chicago


Seated Figure with Towel

oil on canvas
95 x 80 in. (241.3 x 203.2 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "George Condo Seated Figure with Towel 1989" on a label affixed to the stretcher.

$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for $341,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm