Coorganized with the Hayward Gallery in London, the New Museum will present the first conceptual survey of twenty five years of work by the American artist George Condo. Concentrating on painting, but including sculpture as well, the exhibition will offer a comprehensive survey of a career that has been innovative in his assimilation and appropriation of elements of the greatest Western artists of the past five hundred years- from Velasquez to Picasso to Arshile Gorky. Condo’s has been most prolific as a portraitist, but one who has devised a wholly unique way to interpret this genre. Beginning in the mid nineteen eighties, he developed the idea of “artificial realism” an idea that spawned a race of entirely imagined entities. Conventionally, a portrait depicts a individual who exists, or once existed. Condo’s portraits do not. Painted with a highly detailed naturalism that gives old masterish attention to every detail of figure, costume and attribute, Condo’s portraits remain recognizable as types; butlers, businessmen, saints or cleaning ladies, despite their often fantastic, or humorously grotesque features.
Condo’s work has been deeply influential to two generations of figurative painters in the U.S. and in Europe, both because of the artist’s astonishing technical ability, stylistic versatility and imaginative subject matter, and after the first blossoming of his career in New York and Paris in the nineteen eighties, his work again, became the focus of intense interest at the beginning of the new century. Condo’s production is famously prodigious, and this tightly edited collection of works dating from 1982 to now, will be presented in thematic sections or chapters developed in close collaboration with the artist. A dramatic installation of a collection of more than fifty portraits in myriad styles, sizes, and types will be the centerpiece of the exhibition, which will be accompanied by a catalog featuring essays by Ralph Rugoff, Director of the Hayward Gallery, Laura Hoptman, former Kraus Family Senior Curator at the New Museum as well as the fiction writers Will Self and David Means. After its presentation at the New Museum, the exhibition will travel to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (June 4–September 25, 2011); Hayward Gallery, London (October 18, 2011–January 15, 2012); and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (February 23–May 28, 2012).
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