George Condo (b. 1957)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more
George Condo (b. 1957)

Three Figures in a Garden

Details
George Condo (b. 1957)
Three Figures in a Garden
signed and dated ‘Condo 06’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
61 7/8 x 53 7/8in. (157.9 x 137.9cm.)
Painted in 2006
Provenance
Luhring Augustine, New York.
Skarstedt Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011.
Exhibited
New York, Luhring Augustine, George Condo Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005/2006, 2006, p. 135 (illustrated in colour, p. 69).
Paris, Fondation Dina Vierny, Musée Maillol, George Condo: La Civilisation perdue, 2009, p. 159 (illustrated in colour, p. 79).
New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Winter Group Show: Baldessari, Condo, Dumas, Haring, Kruger, Oehlen, Prince, Sherman, 2010.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Brought to you by

Annemijn van Grimbergen
Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

‘I wanted to capture the characters in these paintings at the extreme height of whatever moment they’re in – in that static moment of chaos – and to picture them as abstract compositions that are set in destitute places and isolated rooms. Everything takes place in a relatively impoverished kind of situation’ (G. Condo, quoted in R. Rugoff, ‘The Enigma of Jean Louis: Interview 14 March 2006’, George Condo: Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005/2006, exh. cat., Luhring Augustine, New York, 2006, p. 8).

Executed on a grand scale reminiscent of history painting, George Condo’s Three Figures in a Garden, 2006, forms part of the artist’s Existential Portraits series conceived between 2005 and 2006 and embodies Condo’s unique practice of infusing his work with disparate elements from the art historical canon in order to create imagery which is at once deeply informed and poignant. In the present work, Condo conceived three Picasso-esque figures in an Arcadian landscape. The figures and the composition simultaneously recall Picasso’s The Three Dancers, 1925, Tate, London and Cézanne’s The Large Bathers, 1900-1906, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Indeed, rich pictorial creations such as the one offered here have succeeded in situating Condo as one of the most inventive artists of his generation. Self-consciously disarming the viewer’s expectations, Condo’s images are wrought with a complex mixture of emotion and interpretation. Over the past three decades, in canvases that articulate this kind of potent and mixed emotional charge, Condo has explored the outer suburbs of acceptability while making pictures that, for all of their outrageous humour, are deeply immersed in memories of European and American traditions of paintings.

In Three Figures in a Garden, Condo appears to be subverting the very history of the art historical canon by placing his Cubist-inspired ‘Picasso’ figures in an Arcadian landscape that, in the hatched build-up of colour, has a distinct Cézanne-edge to it. Indeed, it was this blocky technique of Cézanne’s that Picasso saw in 1907 at the artist’s celebrated posthumous exhibition at the Salon d’Automne that prompted him to call Cézanne ‘the father of us all’ and instigated the evolution of Cubism. Utilizing the traditional medium of oil on canvas to revisit a classical motif, in Three Figures in a Garden, Condo appears to be subverting the time-honoured theme of nudes in a landscape, a subject which preoccupied Cézanne with his series of Bathers. Deriving in part from pastoral images of female bathers, such as the goddess Diana and her maidens, long favoured by artists from Titian to Poussin, Cézanne’s wooded glades were populated with stockier figures which complimented his blockier application of colour that went on to inform Cubism.

Conceiving figures based on memory, imagination and archetypes from life, Condo’s figures have become recognized for their bulging eyes, bulbous cheeks, proliferating limbs, and jarring over-bites, which set them apart as a singular species. As Ralph Rugoff notes, ‘these figures can be seductive and repulsive at the same time. They embody a position that is simultaneously frightening and appealing. This is something that also comes across in the way that they solicit different kinds of looks from the viewer, and how they often look back at us with eyes that don’t match or don’t even seem to belong to the same face’ (R. Rugoff, ‘The Enigma of Jean Louis: Interview 14 March 2006’, in George Condo: Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005/2006, exh. cat., Luhring Augustine, New York, 2006, pp. 8-9). Condo uses his particular technique to reassess painting in a radical new way and by combining the past with a more contemporaneous narrative, paintings such as Three Figures in a Garden have done much to return the human figure to its central position in the modern art historical canon. As Condo noted at the time, ‘I wanted to capture the characters in these paintings at the extreme height of whatever moment they’re in – in that static moment of chaos – and to picture them as abstract compositions that are set in destitute places and isolated rooms. Everything takes place in a relatively impoverished kind of situation’ (G. Condo, quoted in R. Rugoff, ‘The Enigma of Jean Louis: Interview 14 March 2006’, George Condo: Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005/2006, exh. cat., Luhring Augustine, New York, 2006, p. 8).
;

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction

View All
View All