George Condo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, March 9, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Caratsch De Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2005

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Musee Maillol, George Condo - The Lost Civilization, 17 April - 17 August 2009, exh. cat. p.76 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    This comical and provocative work, executed in 2005, is a testament to the distinctive style of psychologically unnerving portraiture developed by George Condo in the latter half of the twentieth century. Jean-Louis’ Girlfriend is rendered in a bold figurative manner, with clean lines against a stark background creating an effect both elegant and disturbing. Two animal heads are stacked on the woman’s neck where the face would usually be depicted, amusingly topped with a brimmed hat which serves to further anthropomorphise the creatures. This powerfully evocative transplantation raises questions and concerns about not only the woman’s psyche but also the viewer’s own.

    The imaginary butler Jean-Louis is one of the central recurring figures in the artist’s oeuvre, with an accompanying host of relatives and acquaintances, for example the girlfriend depicted here. Condo coined the phrase ‘Artificial Realism’ in the 1980s to describe this unique technique of accurately illustrating the fantastical extremes of his own imagination. The artist has chosen oil on canvas as his preferred medium, thereby recalling and implicating the established canon of grand art historical portraiture. Condo masterfully blends styles from classicism to cartoon, engulfing the materials and subjects of the Old Masters within his extreme and often perturbing characters. Although adopting elements of cubism, he chooses to foreground the conflicting emotions and mental turmoil of his subjects rather than physical facial facets. Condo has created an individual and instantly recognisable pictorial vocabulary which continues to shock audiences and influence generations of contemporary artists such as John Currin and Glenn Brown.

  • 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 an Important Private European Collection


Jean-Louis' Girlfriend

signed and dated 'Condo 05' upper left; further signed, dated and titled 'Condo 05 "Jean-Louis' Girlfriend"' on the reverse
oil on canvas
152.5 x 122 cm (60 x 48 in.)
Painted in 2005.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £389,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 10 March 2017