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Property of an Important Collector


signed and dated 'Condo 99' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
70 x 85 in. (177.8 x 215.9 cm.)
Painted in 1999.
Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne
Private collection, Germany, 1999
Sprüth Magers Gallery, London, 2007
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2013
Cologne, Monika Sprüth Galerie, George Condo, March-June 1999.

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Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of the 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

"Picasso was always painting Dora Maar or whoever; Francis Bacon’s portraits could always be traced to some existing person. But not my portraits. They were all imaginary.(G. Condo, quoted in ‘George Condo: ‘I was delirious. Nearly died.,’ The Guardian, 2014).

Known for his highly stylized and surrealistic paintings that often incorporate a mix of figuration and abstraction, George Condo creates portraits of imaginary or invented people, rather than real individuals. In an interview with Harriet Lloyd Smith, Condo is asked which artists had the biggest impact on him, and he responds, “I would say Kandinsky, Picasso, Caravaggio and then about a million others. The reason for the first three is that each of them created their own language which was somehow comprised of everything that came before them and took it to a new level. That's my intention as an artist” (G. Condo, quoted in H. Lloyd-Smith, ‘At Home with George Condo’, Wallpaper*, 2022). He wanted to create a language of his own, and through his practice, he was successful in this, describing his own approach as “psychological cubism.” His unique and innovative style of painting, which blends traditional techniques of Western art with contemporary influences, makes his work stand out. He also incorporates elements of cartooning and comics in his works, and this combination of influences culminates in a distinct style that challenges the viewer to question their perceptions and invites them to engage with the complexities of the human psyche.
Vibrant colors and abstract shapes dominate the large canvas of Condo’s 1999 painting Confrontation. A mix of abstract and figurative elements are made up of rich and vivid shades of blues, yellows, greens, pinks and oranges, layered with energetic and heavily etched marks that confront the viewer head-on. The use of contrasting colors, separated by bold black outlines, creates a sense of tension and drama that is further heightened by the chaotic composition. The influence of cartoon and comics is especially prevalent in this work, through the use of bright colors and creation of features that look to be comic-like large eyes and mouths. The central figure, with its multiple faces and distorted features, creates a sense of unease and confusion. It is as if the figures in this work are butting heads, confronting each other. The viewer is left to question the nature of the figures and the relationship between the various elements in the painting. This ambiguity and sense of disorientation is characteristic of Condo's work and speaks to his interest in exploring the subconscious and the irrational.

"It’s not simply to have a confrontation with other artists, it’s about the idea that I make my work in a confrontation with myself and I’m confronting my demons, my depressions, my happiness, my existence. I’m confronting this as an artist and I want to get the most out of who I am. I only can do this by confrontation." (G. Condo, quoted in ‘George Condo’s “Confrontation” Show Juxtaposes His Work With Classic Art,’ Hypebeast, 2016).

Despite its frenetic and disorienting nature, Confrontation also has a sense of balance and harmony. The various elements in the painting are carefully arranged to create a cohesive whole, and the use of negative space and contrasting colors creates a sense of balance and fluidity. This tension between chaos and order is a hallmark of Condo's work and speaks to his interest in exploring the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious. Condo has a skill in fragmenting the figure in his works, creating his own movement with influences of cubism.
George Condo's Confrontation is a powerful and visually striking painting that showcases his distinctive style and approach to painting, which has earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated following, with his works appearing in major museums and galleries around the world. His work is truly unique and thought provoking, constantly keeping the viewer intrigued as their eyes move throughout his undeniably bold and alluring compositions.

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