George Condo
Untitled, 1985 | Oil on canvas

George Condo is famous for his extraordinary technical skill, his stylistic diversity and his highly original subject matter. One of his most beloved subjects is the portrait. These portraits include fantasy characters and elements from masterpieces by artists such as Velasquez and Picasso. Many of the characters are recognisable archetypes, such as butlers, businessmen, saints and other historical figures, but with absurd, grotesque features.
The small portrait purched by Direct Art Collection has an clownish appearance. It seems as if Condo has set up the portrait 'en profile'. The big (clowns)nose indicates that. But looking closer we can discover another nose, another mouth and it becomes unclear where we look at. This surreal quality is typical for Condo. The portret was painted in the early 80's, in 1985 to be exact, when Condo emerged as painter on the New York art scene. Beginning with these clown paintings, Condo's investigation into this genre reflected a highly unconventional approach to portraiture based upon imagination and memory as opposed to found or appropriated source material. The imaginary portrait became, through Condo's eyes, a springboard for the development of an entirely new language of portraiture. While simultaneously drawing upon traditional techniques of oil painting, Condo imbued his subjects with a psychological complexity quite unique in the realm of the portrait.


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