Lot 119
  • 119

GEORGE CONDO | Seated Nude

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • George Condo
  • Seated Nude
  • signed and dated 08; signed and dated 08 on the reverse
  • oil on linen
  • 132.1 by 106.9 cm. 52 7/8 by 41 7/8 in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Beirut, Aïshti Foundation, Good dreams, Bad dreams: American mythologies, October 2016 - September 2017, p. 121, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate although the overall tonality is slightly deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. There is some evidence of wear with associated rub marks along the edges and upper right corner tip. Very close inspection reveals a thin and short crack to the upper left edge, approximately 10cm from the upper left corner, which seems to have been caused by a small impact. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

George Condo’s Seated Nude bears witness to the fantastical hybridisation that is synonymous with the artist’s ingenious treatment of the contemporary psyche. Illustrating one of Condo’s signature female nudes, the present work is both bitingly satirical and curiously poignant. Condo’s iconic female portraits offer a singularly apposite commentary on contemporary society through their instantly recognisable distortions and geometric additions. Despite their quasi-grotesque alterations of form, Ralph Rugoff notes that Condo also imbues his characters with a sense of ineffable pathos: “Unlike in caricature…the preposterous features of these figures are in fact rendered with great sympathy. Drawing on the traditional rhetoric of portraiture, Condo imbues his invented subjects with a compelling psychological presence” (Ralph Rugoff, ‘The Mental States of America,’ in: Exh. Cat., London, Hayward Gallery, George Condo: Mental States, 2011-12, p. 16). Executed some twenty-five years after the artist first burst onto the international scene, Seated Nude is quintessentially Condo. It is both a remarkable synthesis of art history and the grotesque, and an extraordinary examination of the deepest recesses of the psychological. The artist comments, “I describe what I do as psychological cubism. 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 cited in: Stuart Jeffries, ‘George Condo: “I was delirious. Nearly Died”’ in: The Guardian, 10 February 2014, online).

Since the early 1980s, Condo has pioneered a hybrid-topography of the human figure, inventing a fictional schema to explore the tenets of subjectivity. Navigating an uncanny visual lexicon, Condo's chimeric beings emotively deliver a schizophrenic marriage of horror, pathos and humour to expose intense psychic states. Rugloff remarks, "chins and necks melt together to form disarming swathes of flesh; cheeks balloon into myriad tumourous shapes; ragged rows of teeth flash unexpectedly from displaced orifices. Yet however odd and fantastical these beings seem, Condo's careful modelling gives them the appearance of volume-displacing, three-dimensional figures who occupy a space identical to our own" (Ralph Rugoff, The Imaginary Portraits of George Condo, New York 2002, p. 11).

Born of an intense dialogue between art history and popular culture, Condo’s paintings conjure stylistic traits that are absorbed from a multitude of canonical influences. Spanning from Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Ingres, Manet, Goya, Velázquez, Géricault, to caricature and comics, Condo draws from an enormous repository of pictorial signifiers, corporeally melding their features into a unique brand of psychologically charged portraiture.

Like Matisse and Picasso before him, Condo finds his greatest subject in the portrayal of the female form. Herein, the present work truly exhibits the artist's innovative approach to female corporeality: the protagonist, a majestic woman, sits proudly in the centre of the composition, her nude body, wearing only stockings, laid bare so that the artist could revel in the nuances of her peachy skin against a backdrop of fiery crimson. The absurd fusion of neck, head, and arms, in tandem with rodent-like ears and a bulbous nose deliver an unnervingly comic element, while the imploring stare of her eyes immediately engage and arrest the viewer. Her confrontational stare corroborates the male gaze, a notion tackled continuously throughout the academic genre of portraiture from Van Dyck to Lucian Freud, whilst the curvature of her body recalls 16th sculpture such as that of Michelangelo.

Condo has continued to mine the formal possibilities of art historical tropes to push the boundaries and defy expectations for both painting and portraiture in a modern setting. Building upon years of refining and maturing his iconic figurative style, Seated Nude reveals an artist at the height of his career, utterly uninhibited and full of instinctive creative fervour.