Lot 1081
  • 1081

GEORGE CONDO | Green Seated Woman

4,000,000 - 5,000,000 HKD
6,120,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • George Condo
  • Green Seated Woman
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 137.5 by 116.8 cm; 54 by 46 in.
signed and dated 06 on the reverse


Simon Lee Gallery, London
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Catalogue Note

Green Seated Woman
George Condo

Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological states. Four of them can occur simultaneously. Like glimpsing a bus with one passenger howling over a joke they're hearing down the phone, someone else asleep, someone else crying – I'll put them all in one face. – George Condo

In the beginning I took fragments of architecture to create a person, now I take a person and fragment them to make architecture. – George Condo

Whimsical and bizarre, straddling the familiar, the uncanny and the grotesque, Green Seated Woman exemplifies the phantasmagoric hybridization that is synonymous with George Condo’s extensive exploration of the furthest extremes of the human psyche. The work depicts all the iconic features that are quintessential to Condo’s practice – bulbous noses, fused neck and cheeks, protruding ears, swollen female breasts, toothy grimaces and frenzied stares – whilst defying the trope of a lone sitter to manifest something of a family portrait. There are not one but three figures seated on the couch; an exemplary composition that exhibits the epitome of Condo’s highly psychological practice that delves extensively into the depths of the fragmented human psyche. “In the beginning I took fragments of architecture to create a person, now I take a person and fragment them to make architecture.” (cited in: Laura Hoptman, ‘Abstraction as a State of Mind’, in: Exh. Cat., New York, New Museum, George Condo: Mental States, New York, 2011, p. 24). Drawing on vastly diverse painting practices – from Ingres and Velázquez to Picasso, Matisse and Warhol – and incorporating references from popular culture such as cartoons and comic strips, Condo internalizes a multitude of art historical sources to create a distinctive pictorial language which is characteristically his own.

Following a nine-month stint as the diamond duster in Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory, Condo emerged onto the 1980s New York art scene at the eager age of twenty-three alongside seminal figures Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the latter of whom is stated to have officially convinced Condo to pursue a career as a professional artist. Like Haring and Basquiat, Condo was critically engaged throughout the eighties in the inauguration of a new form of figurative painting that stylistically blended the representational and the abstract. Condo coined the terms ‘artificial realism’ and ‘psychological cubism’ to define his hybridization of art historical influences, specifically his fusion of the Old Master subject matter with the distorted geometric perspectives of Cubism. Through a prolific output of compelling yet grotesque portraits, Condo established himself by the turn of the century as one of the preeminent figurative painters of the contemporary era; his method of extrapolating and distorting traditional figurative motifs through an abstract lens has influenced an entire generation of artists working today.

Most significantly Condo has inculcated into the fabric of figurative painting a renewed interest in borrowing, even stealing, art historical tropes into a playfully exaggerated or ludicrous new context—therefore simultaneously reviving and humorously undermining the integrity of portraiture. Masterfully combining a vast array of art historical modes, Condo internalizes multiple pictorial languages to form his own brand of psychologically charged portraiture. In the artist’s own words: “I believe that painting needs to transform in order for it to become interesting for each and every generation, but I think of it more in terms of being liberated by history. Liberated by what has come before” (cited in Ralph Rugoff, “The Enigma of Jean Louis,” in Exh. Cat., New York, Luhring Augustine Gallery, George Condo: Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005-2006, 2006, p. 7). Condo’s playful disregard for the chronological progression of art history recalls the work of Philip Guston, whose late figurative paintings shocked the art world with their dismissal of abstraction, predating by several years the triumphant return of figurative painting in the 1980’s. Echoing this whimsical irreverence for precedent in his work, Condo notes: “When we actually thought for years that time should have a chronological order, we were only destroying ourselves” (George Condo, Unpublished Text, 1976, in Simon Baker, George Condo: Painting Reconfigured, New York, 2015, p. 8).

The present work in particular interrogates the age-old trope of the nude female sitter, subverting notions of beauty and the gaze and urging viewers to step outside tradition and consider those aspects of the work which both delight us and repulse us. In the artist’s own words, women are “something that you can glorify, be horrified by, be paranoid by” (“Interview with George Condo, New York, 15 April 2004” in George Condo: One Hundred Women, Hatje Cantz Publishers, Germany 2015, p. 33). With portraiture making up the core of his oeuvre, Condo adds a psychological dimension towards his application of the Modernist aesthetic, using his paintings as a way to break into the everyday consciousness of human beings (cited in an interview with Felix Guattari in Laura Hoptman, ‘Abstraction as a State of Mind’, in George Condo: Mental States, Hayward Publishing, London 2011, p. 28). By drawing on the viewer’s prior investments in the figurative conventions, the artist fashioned a unique pictorial rhetoric that turns his women into surrogates of human psychology. Their fragmented faces and bodies function as prisms that refract different and often conflicting psychological states of his imaginary characters, or more importantly that of the viewer. Commenting on his exhibition George Condo: Mental States which focused on his portrait works at London Hayward Gallery in 2011, Condo remarked: “It’s not just the character in the paintings, it’s also going to be about the people who come to see the paintings and what it does to their mental state, to see all these different reflections of humanity, from all walks of life, happening at the same time on the wall” (George Condo, quoted in Maria Cashdan, ‘The Mental States of George Condo’, Huffington Post, 25 May 2011).