George Condo - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York; Gary Tatintsian Gallery Inc., Moscow; Private Collection, Moscow

  • Exhibited

    Moscow, Gary Tatintsian Gallery Inc., George Condo: Artificial Realism, 15 May – 14 July 2008

  • Literature

    George Condo: Artificial Realism, exh. cat., Moscow, Gary Tatintsian Gallery Inc., 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Rather than a narrative there is often a philosophical subtext which acts as a compositional structure. I painted a number of paintings representing the carrot. It’s a metaphor of false hope, the carrot is dangling in front of you, like the dagger in Hamlet” George Condo

    Grotesque and yet comical and executed with Old Masterly finesse, Cave Painting epitomises the work of George Condo. The work evokes the artist’s own description of his style, which “goes between a scream and a smile”. It is that alluring quality, amalgamated with his use of art historical and sociological contexts, which conjures his enigmatic characters and rich narratives, and which he leaves the viewer to work out: “Some have a theatrical quality that can be comedic or scary. You have the power as a viewer to expose any one of these characters at any moment, which creates a vulnerable atmosphere to painting”.

    The iconic reclining nude, her gaze confronting the spectator, is a homage to both Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Manet’s Olympia. Condo’s Cave Painting carries the hallmarks of both of these precursors: the sexualised, unrelenting stare of Olympia, and celebration of the eroticism and fertility associated with Titian’s Venus. Yet, there is a menacing, primitive undercurrent to Cave Painting which expresses a lustful animalistic desire. Reinforced by the phallic suggestion made from the branch and rock, the dangling carrot, as Condo suggests, symbolises the inevitable; the degenerated hope and vulnerability of his muse. There is a great sense that Condo is actually depicting despair, lurking amongst an inviting luscious countryside. It is this brutal honesty, akin to the influential work of Francis Bacon, which is at the core of Condo’s appeal. The artist’s ability to compartmentalise unremitting emotional realism, while keeping fluidity and beauty, transcends Cave Painting from a humble reclining nude into the realms of psychological cubism which characterise Condo’s paintings.

  • 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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Cave Painting

Oil on canvas.
191 × 216.5 cm (75 1/4 × 85 1/4 in).
Signed and dated ‘Condo 08’ on the reverse.

£300,000 - 500,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 October 2011