Lot 5
  • 5

George Condo

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • George Condo
  • Purple and Yellow Abstraction
  • signed and dated 12.31.2012
  • acrylic, charcoal and pastel on canvas
  • 58 x 66 in. 147.3 x 167.6 cm.


Donated by the artist and Skarstedt Gallery


This work is in excellent condition. Under ultraviolet light there are no apparent restorations. The canvas is framed under Plexiglas in a white-washed wooden strip frame with a one inch float.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

George Condo’s 1985–86 painting Dancing to Miles—a lively allover composition of biomorphic forms that recalls the work of Gorky and Matta—was included, along with two other of his recent works, in the 1987 Whitney Biennial. It had been only five years since his first mature painting, The Madonna (1982), an Old Master–style portrait, launched Condo on a career-long exploration of hybridized historical styles and genres. Channeling everyone from Tiepolo, Rembrandt, and Goya to Cézanne, Picasso, and de Kooning, he combined the techniques and language of the painterly practices he admired with a set of subjects from the classical to the controversial: clowns, Christ figures, nudes, imaginary “antipodular” creatures, and Queen Elizabeth. The work was instrumental to the revival of painting in the 1980s. Condo has pursued his singular project across figurative and abstract painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture for more than thirty years.
Brown Expanding Drawing Painting (1991), a large-scale work in the Whitney’s permanent collection, combines a lyrical abstract composition on a brown background with a small still life of decorative objects, painted in realist fashion, that bisects a panel of pure white bordering the other panel’s right edge. Also in the collection are eight of Condo’s drawings and prints, from an untitled 1987 mixed-media work of biomorphic forms to the Picassoesque rendering of The Mad Hatter, from 2007. In 1991, for its Artists and Writers series, the museum published a collaborative effort between Condo and writer William Burroughs titled Ghost of Chance, issued in a signed edition of 160. Burroughs’s adventure novella, set in Madagascar, was illustrated by Condo with three black-and-white etchings, a drawing, and ten color lithographs. His work has been featured in eight exhibitions at the museum, most recently in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and the accompanying exhibition Collecting Biennials.
Purple and Yellow Abstraction (2013) is a continuation of Condo’s recent series of Drawing Paintings, begun in 2009. So called because the works represent a shift away from oil paint to the materials of acrylic, charcoal, and pastel, they are, according to Condo, “about freedom of line and color [that] blur the distinction between drawing and painting … about improvisation on the human figure and its consciousness” (George Condo, in press release for an exhibition at the Skarstedt Gallery, 4 November–21 December 2011). These large-scale works continue to draw on techniques and styles of his Modernist predecessors while exploring what he has called “abstract figuration.” When he began the series of Drawing Paintings, Condo was looking to move away from “all those pods and peripheral beings I’ve been working on over the last decade” and “to bring back more naturalistic faces and bodies” (George Condo, in Calvin Tomkins, “Portraits of Imaginary People: How George Condo Reclaimed Old Master Painting,” The New Yorker, 17 January 2011, p. 65). In Purple and Yellow Abstraction, some of those imaginary beings have returned to cohabit with more traditional presences. Here, as the improvisation of drafting and the control of painting align, the abstract and the figurative, the whimsical and the classical join forces in a singular, exuberant amalgam of the artist’s signature motifs.