George Condo (b. 1957)
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George Condo (b. 1957)

Three Nudes

Details
George Condo (b. 1957)
Three Nudes
ink and gesso on two joined sheets of paper
82 1/8 x 56 ½in. (208.5 x 143.5cm.)
Executed in 2013
Provenance
Skarstedt Gallery, New York.
Private Collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Skarstedt Gallery, George Condo: Ink Drawings, 2014, pp. 36 and 59 (detail illustrated in colour on the catalogue cover; illustrated in colour, p. 37; detail illustrated in colour, pp. 38-39).
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Lot Essay

‘The idea is to take all the information from every painting I like in history and put it back in an original way’
–George Condo


A captivating large-scale composition in ink and gesso, Three Nudes is a superb example of George Condo’s knife-edge dance between the enticing and the grotesque. The work depicts a trio of standing nudes. While the centre and rightmost subjects are classically beautiful females, the figure on the left has a protuberant cheek, cartoon eyes and a bestial maw: characteristic features of Condo’s strikingly exaggerated pictorial language. A wild shock of hair further emphasises this androgynous character’s disjunct with its companions. Two enigmatic hands, outlined in blue, appear to echo the seen and unseen limbs of these figures, as if survivals from a sketch beneath. Three Nudes speaks in direct dialogue with the history of art. Condo’s triad harks back to the German Renaissance master Cranach the Elder’s The Three Graces (1581). Whereas Cranach’s figures are incarnations of divine elegance and mirth, however, Condo’s trio carry something of the demimonde, with eroticised poses and fishnet stockings redolent of burlesque. The black ink outlines counterposed with the bold white gesso field calls to mind the streamlined Cubism of 1930s Picasso, while the sinuousness of the two female figures recalls the nude portraits of Modigliani. Yet Three Nudes is unmistakably Condo’s own. ‘I don’t,’ the artist has said, ‘want to just paint someone else’s painting. The idea is to take all the information from every painting I like in history and put it back in an original way’ (G. Condo, quoted in S. Baker, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, London 2015, p. 14). Three Nudes is both a meditation on Condo’s illustrious predecessors and a stellar demonstration of his uniquely disconcerting techniques.

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