Lot 43
  • 43

GEORGE CONDO | Female Portrait with Blue Eyes

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
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  • George Condo
  • Female Portrait with Blue Eyes
  • signed and dated 7/2013
  • acrylic, charcoal and pastel on linen, in artist's frame 
  • 134.6 by 106.7 cm. 53 by 42 in.
  • framed: 139.5 by 118 cm by 9.5 cm. 55 by 46 1/2 by 3 7/8 in.


Skarstedt Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is richer and more vibrant in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. As per the artist's instruction this work was not unframed for the purpose of the condition report, and the work is protected under UV perspex.
"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

Untitled epitomises George Condo’s mature style. It is a remarkable example of the artist’s celebrated Drawing Paintings (2009-present), so called because they marked a shift away from the oil paint that Condo had used up to that point towards a multi-media approach consisting of acrylic, charcoal and pastel. Unlike the portraits from the 2000s, where often grotesque and highly stylised figures seem to emerge from the dark recesses of his compositions, the present work is composed and Picasso-esque. Jazz-like in its recapitulation of the human form, these paintings, to quote the artist, are “about freedom of line and colour [that] blur the distinction between drawing and painting. They are about beauty and horror walking hand in hand. They are about improvisation on the human figure and its consciousness” (George Condo cited in: Press Release, New York, Skarstedt Gallery, George Condo: Drawing Paintings, November 2011, online). Quite aside from these stylistic concerns, it is well worth examining the purpose of Condo’s distortions, namely the desire to emulate Cubism, not for its attempt to show an object from various different angles, but rather by reflecting the ever changing, and often conflicting emotions of the human psyche in paint. Any traces of physical individuality are abandoned here, in favour of mapping out the furthest extremes of the human condition, a process that Condo has described as ‘psychological Cubism’.

Condo’s figurative work can be described in part as an assault upon the traditions of portraiture. Through his attempt to capture the embodied psychological essence of his subjects, Condo breaks the conceit of portrait painting as a whole, eliminating the illusion that drives it. As the artist has stated, “the affected part of people is the interesting side to me. It’s the real side of them that’s boring”, and there can be little doubt that portraiture as a whole is an affectation (George Condo in conversation with Anney Bonney in: BOMB 40, 1 July 1992, online). The portrait that emerges from an artist’s studio is propagandistic – it conveys the reality that the subject wants to transmit. However, through his attempts to trace psychology, rather than appearance, Condo subverts this aim, denying his figures the ability to curate their own image.

Clearly, this lampooning of established artistic mores, as well as of canonical artists themselves, serves to conflate lofty cultural aspiration with something altogether more base. The clownish and absurd representation of human nature and desire demonstrates the ease with which even the most admirable of intentions can become confused and perverted. Over the last three decades, in canvases that articulate this kind of potent and mixed emotional charge, to quote curator Ralph Rugoff, “Condo has explored the outer suburbs of acceptability while making pictures that, for all of their outrageous humor, are deeply immersed in memories of European and American traditions of painting” (Ralph Rugoff, ‘The Mental States of America’ in: Exh. Cat., London, Hayward Gallery, George Condo: Mental States, 2011, p. 11).