George Condo - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I like to think about Picasso […] because he took a bicycle seat and a pair of handlebars and made a bull’s head: he re-configured a manmade thing into a natural thing. What I’ve done is the reverse, I’ve turned it back into a bicycle.”
    —George Condo

    A perennial art-world provocateur, approaching art with protean force and spontaneity, Purple and Green Head Composition embodies the range, verve, and potency inherent to George Condo’s canvases. Belonging to Condo’s celebrated Drawing Paintings first commenced in 2008, Purple and Green Head Composition articulates the artist’s ongoing dialogue with his retinue of strangely familiar, grotesque characters. Through his committed and close examination of art historical tradition and the human psyche, Condo expresses his unique vision of ‘psychological cubism’ as a means of pursuing construction through fragmentation.


    Frenetic and fluorescent, with staccato strokes of charcoal and pastel, Condo schematically outlines the bust of a figure. Across the richly layered painterly surface, flashes of lilac and lime green radiate from the blue and white ground, the animated surface speaking to the composition's latent energy and dynamism. A composition that resembles the geometric constructions of Analytical Cubism and the visceral impastos of Abstract Expressionists, Condo aspires for his work to be ‘the sum of everything that ever happened before [him]’.i Unconventionally combining paint with the velocity and immediacy afforded by drawing, as Francis Picabia or Phillip Guston had relentlessly experimented with a range of styles, Condo re-energises historical references to create a distinct, personal language.

    “I describe what I do as psychological cubism. Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological states.”
    —George Condo

    Psychological cubism


    Beginning with his ‘fake’ Old Masters in the early 1980s, to explorations of Pop Art and Surrealism, in Purple and Green Head Composition Condo uses the vocabulary of Cubism to reflect on the multifaceted, antithetical emotional states which are part of the human condition. Defined by the artist as ‘psychological cubism’, Condo challenges the ostensible empiricism of perceived reality since ‘people create artificial representations of themselves as their sole identity’.ii From the reverberating tangle, fractured features of a face materialise: flared teeth, exaggerated ears, and prominent eyes. These physiognomic characteristics are instantly recognisable as belonging to Condo’s crazed, ‘antipodal beings’, apparitions that repeatedly resurface across the artist’s oeuvre to express spheres of the consciousness.iii Through prismatic planes of colour and incandescent surface, in Purple and Green Head Composition beauty, horror, ecstasy and despair are revealed simultaneously, ranges of emotions that are all the more compellingly human.


    George Condo: In the Studio, Hauser & Wirth, 2021


    Collector’s Digest


    • George Condo's resistance to any rigid categorisation and bold stylistic approach has established the artist as a leading force in contemporary art. Among the effervescent New York scene during the 1980s and 1990s, Condo worked for eight months at Andy Warhol's Factory. After his move to Paris in 1985, Condo would return to New York periodically, sometimes to visit his friend Keith Haring's studio and eventually returned to the city in 1995. 

    • The subject of solo exhibitions internationally, Condo’s recent major exhibitions include the Villa Paloma, Monaco in 2023 and the Long Museum, Shanghai in 2021, his largest show to date in Asia.

    • Currently represented by Hauser & Wirth, Condo’s paintings are held in acclaimed international collections including, among many others, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Tate Modern, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.



    i George Condo, quoted in Simon Baker, ‘Artificial Realism’, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, London, 2015, p. 53.

    ii George Condo, quoted in Simon Baker, ‘Sweeping the Interpreter’s Parlour’, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, London, 2015, p. 104.

    iii George Condo, quoted in Ralph Rugoff, ‘The Mental States of America’, George Condo: Mental States, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, p. 16.

    • Provenance

      Skarstedt, New York
      Private Collection
      Opera Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2020

    • 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.

      View More Works

Property of a Private European Collector


Green and Purple Head Composition

signed and dated 'George Condo 4/22/18' upper left
acrylic, charcoal, pastel and pigment stick on linen, in artist's frame
142.7 x 132.6 cm (56 1/8 x 52 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

£700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for £1,016,000

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024