1957 · United States
George Condo is an American contemporary visual artist, who is known for his unique style of figurative painting. Condo’s work plays on the traditional characteristics of Old Masters style painting and re-contextualises them with allusions to modern American culture.
Born in 1957 in New Hampshire, United States, Condo studied art history and music theory at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In the 1980s he began to gain recognition in the East Village art scene in New York, and became an instrumental figure there, alongside other contemporaries of the time such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Condo coined the term ‘Artificial Realism’ – the ‘realistic representation of that which is artificial’ – to describe his method of combining traditional European painting styles with an American Pop Art sensibility. He worked briefly in Los Angeles before moving to Cologne, Germany and had his first solo exhibition there in 1984. Today, he lives and works in New York.
Through his work, Condo looks to explore the human psyche whilst drawing upon influences from Picasso, Matisse, Pollock and Twombly among many others. His pieces are exemplified by the use of fractured, grotesque imagery and a somewhat aggressive tone. Condo has described his portraits as mixtures of various psychological states depicted in a variety of ways, reflecting the lunacy of everyday life. He places archetypal figures in humorous and outlandish contexts, and has created a cast of characters with an instantly recognisable appearance which is instantly identifiable as Condo’s own. With their bulging eyes and cheeks, his characters exude a sense of the macabre and the abject, and play a part in a surrealistic style which Condo refers to as Psychological Cubism.
Throughout his decades-long career, Condo has remained loyal to his signature aesthetic, creating works which continue to draw audiences with their mixture of shock value, playfulness and humour. Today, Condo’s paintings are held in many renowned collections including The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles and the Tate Modern gallery in London. In 2017, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. presented a major survey exhibition of Condo’s work titled ‘George Condo: The Way I Think, 1962-2017’. The exhibition toured to the Louisiana Museum of Modern art in Denmark in 2017.