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  • Provenance

    Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    “ I thought a little about Hopper capturing the despair of loneliness, Hopper always uses a surprising colour here and there in his painting, and the sorrow is suspended with a touch of light.” GEORGE CONDO

    Anchored by a lump of stone and a wooden lower limb, George Condo’s Daphnée is poised, quite literally, between a rock and a hard place. Condo has posed his muse in a vulnerable position, naked with her legs apart, yet contrasting her awkward posture with the casual ease of a cigarette in hand. The smoke drifts up from the same hand which holds her midriff with a maternal gesture, giving the viewer the sense that there may be a wry irony within the work. It is this ambivalence to Condo’s work which has come to epitomise his manner and ultimately to test “the outer suburbs of our acceptability”. (Mental states)

    George Condo’s career took root in the thriving New York art scene over thirty years ago. While his fellow artists and friends such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were developing their signature street art styles, Condo took on “the burden of painting”. His extensive career has seen him take on this tradition with gusto, navigating through the riches of art history, utilising both traditional techniques and subject matter as means to harnessing his vivid imagination. Primarily working in oil paint and adopting the traditions of portraiture, he dismantles the reality of his subjects and reconstructs them in morphed caricatures, often with disturbing yet fascinating results. The artist describes his style of work as Artificial Realism, defining it as being “about dismantling one reality and constructing another from the same parts”.

    Within these playful works, the viewer can see a distinct lineage which descends from the brush strokes of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, but perhaps most interestingly, Daphnée pays homage to another great artist from the 20th century, and a fellow countryman, Edward Hopper. Hopper, whose work explored the modern American life with scenes depicting isolation, despair and contemplation. Through his masterful use of light, Hopper intended for us, the voyeurs, to be struck by the air of expectation in his scenes – reinforcing this through the blank stares of his subjects. Condo has taken this exploration one step further, by facing his characters towards the viewer; he makes us not so much a voyeur but rather a participant within his work. This revisiting of Hopper’s work led Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery in London, to describe Condo’s output as “a kind of delirious translation and updating of Edward Hopper’s melancholy images of alienated urbanities”.

  • Artist Biography

    George Condo

    American • 1957

    Few artists have dedicated their careers as singularly to one genre as George Condo has to that of portraiture. He is drawn to the endless inquiries posed by the aesthetics and formal considerations of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters. Emerging on the New York art scene in the 1980s alongside contemporaries such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo developed a distinctive visual lexicon that is unmistakably his own. 

    Student to Warhol, friend to Basquiat and collaborator with William S. Burroughs, Condo tracked a different path. The artist frequently cites Picasso as a predominant influence in his contemporary cubist compositions and joyous use of paint. Condo is known for postmodernist compositions staked in wit and the grotesque, which draw the eye into a highly imaginary world. 

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18

Daphnée

2006
oil on canvas
152.4 × 132.1 cm ( 60 × 52 in)
Signed and dated ‘Condo 06’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£200,000 - 300,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012
London