George Condo - New Now London Thursday, July 13, 2023 | Phillips
  • “I'm exaggerating and personifying some of their extreme emotional vicissitudes [...] It’s the idea of Cubism —but rather than seeing and depicting this coffee cup, say, from four different angles simultaneously, I’m seeing a personality from multiple angles at once. Instead of space being my subject, I’m painting all of someone’s emotional potentialities at once, and that’s what I’d call Psychological Cubism.” 
    —George Condo

    Highly individuated and immediately recognisable, George Condo’s singular approach to painting has marked him out as an artist of remarkable vision, one which seems especially attuned to the historical mode of portraiture and its role at the turn of the century. As critic and author Will Self memorably noted, ‘Condo’s portraiture has packed into its dense layering all this archaeology of the recent past’, combining both the ‘mechanised torture’ that industrialisation inflicted upon the body with a sense of psychological fracturing and simultaneity that became especially acute in the closing decades of the 20th century.i


    Executed in 2000, as the artist was refining his signature mode of ‘artificial realism’, allowing him to represent reality as a man-made construct, the present work features one of the compellingly familiar and yet strange tragi-comic characters that continue to populate his sublimely surreal pictorial spaces. With characteristic bulging eyes, large, rounded ears and overbite, the figure belongs to the particular breed of ‘Antipodal Beings’ that first appeared in Condo’s canvases in the mid-1990s – figures which occupy the furthest, darkest reaches of our emotional selves.


    In the same vein as masters such as Rembrandt and Frans Hals, Condo has placed his figure against a neutral background here, one which reacts differently to the light and dark sides of the distorted face at the centre. In this effect, Condo frames his portraits to ‘classicize the constellation of human psychology’, but the sentiments in his figures appear more fractured compared to those of his forefathers.ii Like the present work, it was the portraits of these ‘mental states’ that leant their name to Condo’s major 2011 touring retrospective, where the faces of these imaginary characters manifested internal, conflicting emotions and psychological states – imaginatively extending the pictorial experiments of early 20th century Analytical Cubism into the more complex terrain emotional and psychological perception. Executed in gestural, broad brushstrokes, the central figure in the present work exudes a sense of joyfulness, despair, embarrassment, with a base note of insanity; an overall demeanour which is at ‘once endearing yet monstruous.’iii


    Receiving both critical and institutional recognition over the years, George Condo represented the United States at La Biennale di Venezia in both 2013 and 2019. His work can be found in permanent collections such as the Musée National d’Art Modern, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, amongst others.



    i Will Self, ‘Believing in the Cow: The Psychopathoanathemas Pronounced by George Condo’, in George Condo: Mental States, exh. cat. London, 2011, p. 32.  

    ii George Condo quoted in, Charles Moore, “Mondo Condo: Exploring the Extreme Vision of George Condo’s Work’, Ran Dian, 2018.

    iii Ralph Rugoff, ‘The Mental States of America’, in George Condo: Mental States, London, 2011, p. 11.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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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signed and dated ‘Condo Oct 2000’ upper left
oil on linen
18.1 x 14.5 cm (7 1/8 x 5 3/4 in.)
Painted in 2000.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £69,850

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2023