Who Is George Condo?
George Condo and his four siblings enjoyed a typical American childhood growing in up Chelmsford, Massachusetts. He was the only one of his close family members who was interested in art. His father was a teacher and his mother was a nurse, they weren’t artists themselves but they encouraged Condo to take classes and develop his talent. Growing up he split his time between drawing and making music. When he attended college at the University of Massachusetts this balance of passion continued as he studied both art and music.
What Did His Life Look Like?
George Condo and his four siblings enjoyed a typical American childhood growing in up Chelmsford, Massachusetts. He was the only one of his close family members who was interested in art. His father was a teacher and his mother was a nurse. They weren’t artists themselves, but they encouraged Condo to take classes and develop his talent. Growing up he split his time between drawing and making music. When he attended college at the University of Massachusetts this balance of passion continued as he studied both art and music.
After school he worked at a print shop and played in a band called the Girls, which lead him to meet the famous artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. This meeting changed the course of his life and lead him to move to New York and immersed himself in the art scene.
Throughout his career, Condo would work alongside a variety of artists and writers. He started out working with 80s art legends Basquiat and Keith Haring. He would later meet author William S Burroughs and work together on writing, painting and sculpting together for almost a decade.
From the beginning his work has been inspired by all forms of art and inspired an equally diverse range of creative work.
What Sort Of Art Does He Make?
George Condo defines his art as “the realistic representation of that which is artificial,” having coined the term Artificial realism to describe his style.
One of the important things to understand about Condo’s work is that he started at a time when traditional painting was seen as something almost”old fashioned,” with the art world focusing on highly abstract and minimalist art that was far from representational. His work may look very abstract to the modern eye but at the time even drawing highly stylized imaginary characters was out of style.
Condo looked to his hero Pablo Picasso for inspiration and decided to use the long and rich history of art as a foundation to create something new and imaginative.
What Is A Sample Of His Work?
Condo’s 2001 painting The Cracked Cardinal is a good example of Condo’s contemporary style and the artistic philosophy he has built on throughout his career.
Looking at this picture what do you notice first? If you’re like most people you looked at the face and were struck by its unique design. The face is highly abstracted, reminiscent of the Cubism of Pablo Picasso. It’s definitely an interesting and well-designed face, but you only get a true understanding of the piece when you look a little longer.
As your eyes move down from the face you’ll find that the bottom half of the painting is rendered fairly realistically. The hand and is drawn with the correct proportions, the folds of the cloth are carefully shaded, and even the golden designs along the cloth are colored to show the reflection of light off the metallic material.
If you aren’t familiar with art history everything from the subject matter to the conflicting stylistic choices may seem strange. Things only make sense if you recognize that the image reflects the classical portraits done by the old masters. For much of art history portraits were only done for wealthy figures who could afford them, and cardinals were very important in the old days of Catholic Europe.
He is combining the old and the contemporary to create something unique that says something about the history of art. In the world where modernity is often seen as completely rejecting or ignoring the old Condo’s art builds on tradition, using its tools and symbols to add depth to his own personal expression.
What do you think he might be saying in this particular piece?
What Is He Doing Today?
Condo’s art is more famous than ever today, partly because of the way his work has connected with modern popular artists. Condo’s most famous recent work is probably the series of covers he painted for Kanye West’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Since his art and his name was being spread by figures ranging from Jay-Z to Kim Kardashian.
This doesn’t mean that Condo has bent to commercial tastes. He is still creating work his own way, just as he has been since he was a child.