George Condo - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich
    Private Collection, St Petersburg

  • Catalogue Essay

    George Condo is one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of our time, almost exclusively focusing on portraiture and drawing his influences from Old Master painting, European History painting, Cubism and Mannerism and creating his own unique style. His portraits, however, go beyond the mere portrayal of the sitter’s physical appearance; instead they look inside – like all good portraiture – at the state of mind and character of the sitter. “I wanted to capture the characters in these paintings at the extreme height of whatever moment they are in – in that static moment of chaos – and to picture them as abstract compositions that are set in destitute places and isolated rooms” (the artist in an interview with Ralph Rugoff, in George Condo: Existential Portraits, exh. cat., New York, Luhring Augustine, 2006, p. 8).

    The current lot depicts a woman sitting in a blue arm chair apparently caught up in her own thoughts. Her limbs are elongated, her face deformed and mask-like, her neck is swollen, the body’s proportions are exaggerated and her position seems unnatural and uncomfortable. One eye stares out with an awkward and confrontational scrutiny, engaging the viewer in some sort of exchange, while the other stares away into nothingness. This rhythm of being drawn into the work by one eye and being pushed out by the other is heightened by the fact that although repelled by her look, the viewer is also sympathetically drawn to her vulnerable state. Condo explains this look of the grotesque: “I consider them to be feelings or the inside of that person’s private life being visible on the outside” (ibid., p. 10). The exchange between sitter and viewer put the latter in an uncomfortable voyeuristic position yet endowing a bizarre power in the exposure of the sitter’s psychological state.

    “I think the paintings have to do with the idea of people’s despair today, with the idea that they don’t really have a choice. They may think that they have a choice, and to a certain degree they’re being told that they have a choice, but the choices they make are very much within the geopolitical map for how people should live their lives at any given time. So in the paintings, these characters expand beyond those boundaries. They are questioning their existence. Faced with despair, they decide to live way out there beyond the periphery of consciousness” (ibid., p. 7).

  • 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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Ο ◆14

Woman in Blue Chair

Oil on canvas.
134.5 × 117 cm (52 7/8 × 46 1/8 in).
Signed and dated ‘Condo 07’ on the reverse.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £205,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

16 February 2012