3 More
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection

Abstract Face (2)

Abstract Face (2)
signed and dated 'Condo 2012' (upper left)
pastel on paper
30 x 22 ½ in. (76.2 x 57.2 cm.)
Executed in 2012.
Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2013

Brought to you by

Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

"What’s possible with painting that’s not in real life is you can see two or three sides of a personality at the same time." George Condo

George Condo presents us with a fragmented and fissured world filled with strange anthropomorphic figures and surprising associations that palpitate with psychological intensity. Transmuted references to art history, the history of painting, drawing, pop culture, music and philosophical ponderings form an original artistic language and style distinctively his own. Stripped of motif, his style of imitation is a retooling of past artistic styles that are internalized and reconfigured into his own idiosyncratic context. In classically executed paintings, Condo renews the tradition of painting for a contemporary audience. One genre above all continues to yield an on-going investigation for the artist and a majority of his production: portraiture. Beyond a few exceptions, Condo’s portraits do not depict real people but instead are artistic inventions conjured through his imaginative gestures.

Abstract Face (2) embraces the improvisational act of drawing. Confident lines and playful colors form a hysterical and lyrical figure, brightly punctuated against a white background. Teeth haphazardly dance across the face like keys of a piano. Treating paper with the same respect that canvas demands, Condo seamlessly fuses the surface of drawing with that of painting. In a sketch-like quality he maintains control using pastel to define the essence of a person in a few deft strokes.

While drawing has always occupied an important space in Condo’s practice, his ability to effortless incorporate drawing into his painting process is something he developed over time. First asserted in his Drawing Paintings, begun in 2009 and continued ever since, his ability to freely flow between the two modes of production marks a turning point in the artist’s career. In order to fully understand the importance of this shift, we must consider it within the history of art, which has always had the tendency to give hierarchical preference to painting over drawing—drawing often considered the support mechanism and necessary process for realizing the higher and more preferred medium of painting. Despite the fact artists and historians for centuries have rejected the classification and privileging of painting as something other than and better than drawing, this notion is so deeply ingrained in the value placed on work that it is something each artist must reconcile for themselves. Condo has not only reconciled drawing and painting as equal, he has found a way to authentically render that in his work, an authenticity exemplified in Abstract Face (2). In liberating drawing, Condo liberated himself, opening up a more fluid form of expression that allowed him to freely trace the tenets of the human mind. Through the improvisation of form and consciousness, Condo creates jarring compositions that give weight to the turbulence of life and our frenzied existence.

The carnivalesque portrayal of an imagined person in Abstract Face (2) creates a playful and menacing interaction with the viewer. Through grotesque characterizations, Condo is able to exploit the best and worst of human nature. The exaggerated tendencies of his subjects provide comic relief, while the perversions of the figure and monstrous-distortion lead to darker impulses. As we stare into a shattered mirror of line and color, the strange creature reflects back a volatile mixture of fear, desire, freedom, vulgarity and humor. What we see has the ability to tell us more about ourselves than we might realize. Seen abstractly his portraits are existential reliefs. Through a figurative lens they become caricatures of human existence.

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

View All
View All