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  • Provenance

    Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich

  • Catalogue Essay

    It was in the 1980s that George Condo came to prominence with his style of ‘Artificial Realism’, a term the artist himself coined, placing his work in a category of its own. Over the years, Condo has introduced his audience to a diverse cast of characters, all with their own multitude of personalities, for their inspiration the artist does not discern between memory, life, truth, or fiction. It is his most successful paintings that expose a powerful psychological intensity, of which this present lot is an excellent example; it embodies an almost perfect tension between mockery, pity, satire, and pastiche.
    ‘There are many sorts of ways in which figures of this kind can be put together. I may build (sic) a figure by giving it the features of two people; or I may give it the form of one person but think of it in the dream as having the name of another person; or I may have a visual picture of one person, but put it in a situation which is appropriate to another. In all these cases the combination of different persons into a single representative in the content of the dream has a meaning.’ (S. Freud, ‘On Dreams’ in George Condo, Simon Lee Gallery, London, 2007, p. 20)
    A Commercial Approach to Abstract Painting is a clear display of Condo’s influence from Picasso and the manner in which deconstruction of the subject matter occurred in the paintings.The depiction of a somewhat classical, even elegant bust of a woman is executed with an enormous degree of restraint and self-imposed editing, in doing so this lot becomes an example of Condo’s work unlike the majority of his repertoire, a truly special diversion.What remains is a dramatically lit, classically posed figure placed within Condo’s signature vague, empty landscape with a style that is reminiscent of his surrealist predecessors.The deconstruction seems to hover over the figure creating a shift in focus that draws the viewer to examine each deconstructed segment with the same amount of attention given to the posed figure.This is a painting of extreme maturity yet executed with a complex combination of humour, storytelling and conviction.
    ‘it is through a carnival-like burlesque that Condo continually subverts the terms he is using…The many absurd portraits he paints are masks, behind which he works.’ (Henry Geldzahler)

  • 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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A Commercial Approach to Abstract Painting

Oil on canvas.
152.4 x 132.1 cm. (60 x 52 in).

£180,000 - 220,000 Ω

Sold for £157,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

18 Oct 2008, 7pm