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George Condo is Fucking With You… Thank G-d!

January 27, 2011

Couple on Blue Striped Chair, by George Condo, now at New Museum

(**All photos and text by Susan M. Kirschbaum)

George Condo is bad ass.

He’s the only painter who can take all the stale stereotypes of society — the stockbroker, “Alone and Together” a generic name for a couple, Queen Elizabeth, Jesus — and skew them so mentally electrified or deformed, that they become fascinating.

Condo’s body of work — his  bizarrely brilliant portraits; odd golden bust sculptures; and  beautiful all-encompassing abstracts — debuted last night at the New Museum.

You’d think such a genius who can expertly wink at the flaws of man publicly and get away with it might be some kind of weird recluse.  Not so!  Condo shook hands with many in the throngs, that included designers Marc Jacobs and Victoria Bartlett. He greeted pop and fashion collaborators, singer Kanye West and designer Adam Kimmel, respectively. (Condo partnered with Kanye, designing a cover to his album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” considered so sexually dirty that some stores banned it. And Kimmel, an intelligent menswear designer with an eye to modern art, enlisted Condo to design huge heads for his models in his “Casino” themed collection.)

Condo’s comely brunette daughters, Eleonore and Raphaelle, proudly wore little gold busts — actual miniatures of their father’s sculptures– around their necks, while artist Maurizio Cattelan paid his own tribute. He carried a cardboard circle that he had  cut from a photo of Condo as a young man. (I also convinced Cattelan to give the cardboard head to me! Score!) These were the talismans of the night.

Another reason Condo resonates: he’s inspired as a novelist would be, in the development of characters. He’s talked to the New Yorker and to the Huffington Post about how these characters come to him, in the same way any author will explain such mental visitations.

Condo  plays ping-pong with Salman Rushdie, who has attributed Condo’s wall personas as sources of inspiration in some of his fiction.  Thus, the trail continues from one creative outlet to another, which is precisely what great art is supposed to do.

In Condo’s case, the result moves us so, to laughter or  to horror, that the subjects or rather the living butts of his jokes have not yet threatened to kill him.

(George Condo, “Mental States” until May 8th at The New Museum, 235 Bowery, NYC.)

The Stockbroker by George Condo

Figures in a Garden, George Condo

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