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b. 1957, USA

George Condo Biography

George Condo is an American artist known for his distinctive, deformed and sometimes demonic paintings that combine figuration and abstraction. Most heavily influenced by the contrasting aesthetics of old master painting, cubism and pop art, Condo also draws from art historical references as diverse as Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and Willem de Kooning. He is renowned for mixing madness and beauty in his often figurative output, asserting that art's potential is not to invent, but to reconfigure, retool and innovate. The juxtapositions and strange figures in his artworks are a stand-in for the chaos of contemporary life.

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The intermingling of contemporary art and music has always been an important part of Condo's practice. For two years, he studied art history simultaneously with guitar and composition at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. After leaving college, Condo moved to Boston and joined proto-synth/punk band The Girls. When Condo met Jean Michel-Basquiat after The Girls opened for the artist's band in New York City in 1979, Condo decided to move to New York to pursue a career in art. It was here that he coined the term 'artificial realism', a term that he used to describe his life-like representation of imagined things and that would come to define his practice.

While Condo moved and worked between Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Cologne during the 1980s, he was primarily associated with New York's East Village art scene, where he also held his first exhibitions. It was in Europe that he met gallerist Barbara Gladstone, who organised a significant two-gallery exhibition of his work at Pat Hearn and Barbara Gladstone Galleries in New York, helping to launch his career. In 1987, Condo's Dancing to Miles (1985–6) was included in the Whitney Biennial; the painting is a large, turbulent and analytic cubist-inspired canvas that mirrors the frenzied improvisation of jazz musicians, drawing comparisons between erratic free-form music and art.

Condo has maintained close relationships with many important artists and thinkers of his time, with their works inspiring his, and theirs in turn being influenced by him. At one point, Condo worked in Andy Warhol's factory, where he was involved in applying gold dust to the older artist's 'Myths' series. Condo was also close with Keith Haring and often painted in his studio. Later he met William S Burroughs, with whom he collaborated on a series of sculptures, paintings, writings and etchings. In Paris, he befriended French philosopher Félix Guattari, who wrote often on Condo's work. Salman Rushdie's 2001 novel Fury includes a chapter inspired by one of Condo's paintings titled The Psychoanalytic Puppeteer Losing His Mind (1994). Notably launching him into the larger world of pop culture, in 2010, Condo painted the cover art for Kanye West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The image, featuring a figure holding a bottle with a nude winged female on his lap, was quickly censored by iTunes, pointing to the often provocative nature of Condo's artwork.

Borrowing compositional techniques from traditional oil painting and early-20th-century modernist works, Condo's output is most often portraiture-based, full of weird, villainous characters with jutting teeth, large ears and disjointed features. For example, the oil-on-canvas painting The Cracked Cardinal (2004) shows a figure from the torso up, wearing traditional Catholic garb with bulging eyes and bared teeth broken into irregular planes. Similarly, his 2004 painting Little Ricky depicts a nefarious-looking, bulbous-faced youth with cigarettes burning out of each ear and a green bottle balanced atop his head. In Condo's words, his characters encompass 'quite a crew: Indian chiefs, cavemen, office bosses, the nun, two-bit hustlers, low-life criminals, people with one tooth, one eye, protruding chins, enlarged facial features', and are drawn both from life and his imagination. His sculptures too are often absurd renderings of bodies; the 2012 patinated bronze The Liquor Store Attendant is a large-eared bust, with obvious finger marks denoting the artist's handiwork, while The Farmer's Wife (2005) is a bronze approximation of a woman's head with a carrot protruding from her forehead.

Condo has exhibited extensively internationally, most notably including the exhibition Mental States, a 2011 retrospective at New York's New Museum that travelled to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Hayward Gallery, London, and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. In 2017, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC mounted a major survey of his work titled George Condo: The Way I Think, which focused on his drawings, sketches and 'drawing paintings'. In 2004, Condo taught a six-month course at Harvard University entitled 'Painting Memory', and in 2000, John McNaughton directed the documentary Condo Painting, which followed the artist over a course of a year while he painted a major large-scale oil painting titled Big Red.

Condo lives and works in New York City.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018

George Condo, Molecular Figures (2020) (detail). Pen and wax crayon on paper. 61 x 91.4 cm. © George Condo. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. 

George Condo Featured Artworks

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Molecular Figures by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoMolecular Figures, 2020Pen and wax crayon on paper
61 x 91.4 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
Rodrigo and the Maid by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoRodrigo and the Maid, 2008Bronze
38.1 x 83.8 x 45.7 cm
Simon Lee Gallery Enquire about this work
Stuck inside of Bozo by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoStuck inside of Bozo, 2005Oil on canvas
183 x 183 cm
Gary Tatintsian Gallery Enquire about this work
Birdbrain by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoBirdbrain, 2018Oil and pigment stick on linen
289.6 x 289.6 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire about this work
Name Composition by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoName Composition, 1989Oil on canvas
77.5 x 107 cm (incl frame)
Almine Rech Enquire about this work
The Investigation by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoThe Investigation, 2017Oil and pigment stick on linen, in three parts
254 x 609.6 cm
Almine Rech Enquire about this work
Installation view by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoInstallation viewOil on linen

Not for sale
Duddell's
Large Female Portrait by George Condo contemporary artwork
George CondoLarge Female Portrait, 2015Oil on linen
198.1 x 188 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire about this work

George Condo Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, George Condo, Drawings for Distanced Figures at Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
Open Now
3 April–30 June 2020 George Condo Drawings for Distanced Figures Hauser & Wirth, Online Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, WORDS at Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong
Upcoming
22 June–19 July 2020 Group Exhibition WORDS Simon Lee Gallery, Online Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Naturally Naked at Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow
Closed
15 August–28 December 2019 Group Exhibition Naturally Naked Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow

George Condo Represented By

George Condo In Ocula Magazine

Frieze New York Viewing Room Sales Exceed Expectations Ocula News Frieze New York Viewing Room Sales Exceed Expectations New York, 8 May 2020

Galleries have reported stronger than anticipated sales at Frieze New York's Viewing Rooms, which opened to VIPs on 6 May. The online event, initiated after the physical fair was cancelled due to COVID-19, opens to the public from 8-15 May.

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The most searched artists on Ocula now Ocula Photolog The most searched artists on Ocula now

A selection of this week's most searched artists on Ocula.com 

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Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House Ocula Report Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House By Jeesun Park, Gwangju

Gwangju is only the sixth largest city in Korea but its history has become well-known to art audiences around the world through its provocative biennale, now a fixed event in the international art calendar. The Gwangju Biennale began twenty years ago specifically to commemorate the historic fight for democracy that took place in the city, known...

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Alan Lo Ocula Conversation Alan Lo

Active in promoting art and design in Hong Kong, Alan Lo is the Chairman of Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, sits on the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and was a member of Art HK’s advisory group.  Lo is also a co-founder and director of Hong Kong-based Press Room Group, owner and operator of various well-known restaurants and...

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George Condo In Related Press

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Portrait of an Artist: George Condo Related Press Portrait of an Artist: George Condo 17 March 2018, Vanity Fair

As the world grapples with frightening new levels of terrorism, racism and global political unrest, George Condo says he has ironically never felt more inspired. The artist, best known for his fantastical depictions of debauchery and comedic contoured caricatures of subjects both real and imaginary, explains that the current unstable environment...

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GEORGE CONDO with Joachim Pissarro Related Press GEORGE CONDO with Joachim Pissarro 2 November 2017, The Brooklyn Rail

George Condo is a New York-based artist whose career launched in the East Village in the early 1980s. During this time, he also worked in Andy Warhol's factory before moving to Los Angeles and holding his first solo exhibition in 1983. In the decades that followed, Condo has emerged as one of the world's preeminent painters and sculptors. In 2017...

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George Condo goes from Kanye West's dark fantasy to painting his own demons Related Press George Condo goes from Kanye West's dark fantasy to painting his own demons 20 April 2016, The Guardian

These, along with abstract portraits and compositions like Landslide and Tumbling Forms, mark a departure from Condo’s previous work involving drawing, pastel and charcoal like those in his 2014 London shows at Skarstedt and Simon Lee galleries. Back then, he quickly realized he would have to take measures to ensure that his drawings didn’t...

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German art-world feminists stake their claim in L.A. with new Sprüth Magers gallery Related Press German art-world feminists stake their claim in L.A. with new Sprüth Magers gallery 8 March 2016, The Los Angeles Times

Scrawled repeatedly on the window panes of a mid-Wilshire building, from the base to the rooftop, is artist John Baldessari’s call from his 1971 lithograph: “I will not make any more boring art.” The sentiment is also a promise of sorts from the building’s new inhabitants, gallerists Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers....

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George Condo In Video & Audio

George Condo The Artist at Work Related Video & Audio George Condo The Artist at Work 14 December 2017, Louisiana Channel

The mind of American artist George Condo has been referred to as a place where 'Picasso meets Looney Tunes.' Watch him at work in his New York-studio where he draws and paints his take on a 19 th -century painting by Manet.

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George Condo Interview: The Way I Think Related Video & Audio George Condo Interview: The Way I Think 2 November 2017, Louisiana Channel

'I kind of draw like you’re walking through the forest, where you don’t really know where you’re going, and you just start from some point and randomly travel through the paper until you get to a place where you finally reach your destination.' Condo studied music theory at college, but soon realised that it was too formal and rigid for him, and...

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