In an exhibition opening March 11, The Phillips Collection presents a major survey of drawings and “drawing paintings” by George Condo (b. 1957). An extraordinarily prolific painter, Condo is best known for his existential humor and unhinged pictorial inventions. His works synthesize disparate stylistic elements ranging from 17th century Venetian and Dutch painting through 20th century Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art into singular works of art. Condo coined the phrases “Artificial Realism” and “Psychological Cubism” to describe this process.
A collaboration with the artist, George Condo: The Way I Think, features approximately 200 drawings, sketches, and sketchbooks along with several “drawing paintings,” which allow visitors to glean unprecedented insights into the mind and creative process of this highly imaginative contemporary artist. Highlights of this exhibition include Spanish Head Composition (1988) and The Fallen Butler (2009), two major works on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and both excellent examples of Condo’s use of drawing and painting as a way of expressing his unique vision. For the first time, works made between 1962 (when the artist was just five years of age) to his teen and pre-college artworks of the 1970s (which set the stage for his later investigations into figurative abstraction) will be exhibited alongside recent works that demonstrate this progression in his oeuvre.
The Way I Think acknowledges Condo’s longtime challenge of the primacy of painting over drawing, which considers painting as the fulfillment of his drawing’s promise. Condo’s approach to drawing is best exemplified in his “drawing paintings”—an ongoing series started in 2009 that allows him to fully explore the reciprocal relationship between the two media which have been an essential part of his artistic practice. Condo has said that “they are about freedom of line and color and blur the distinction between drawing and painting.”
“It is a delight for the Phillips to collaborate with George Condo on such an extraordinary survey of his unique drawings,” said Director Dorothy Kosinski. “Condo’s work stretches the mind and is certain to inspire visitors to think more deeply about the power of memories.”
“I am very pleased for the Phillips to share an installation by an artist whose creative process speaks volumes about the potential of the human imagination,” said Klaus Ottmann, Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs at the Phillips. “Over the past three decades, his work has consistently surprised and engaged viewers with grotesque yet classical compositions that straddle abstraction and representation, deconstructing and reassembling archetypes found throughout our cultural map.”
“The only way for me to feel the difference between every other artist and me is to use every artist to become me,” said George Condo.
George Condo: The Way I Think is on view March 11 through June 25, 2017, at The Phillips Collection. After its inaugural engagement at the Phillips, the exhibition will travel in the fall to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark. This survey of Condo’s work follows Confrontation at the Berggruen Museum in Berlin, Germany, curated by Udo Kittelmann which features Condo’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures alongside Modern masters Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Paul Klee, and Alberto Giacometti.
About George Condo
George Condo was born in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1957. He studied Art History and Music Theory at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Condo’s art can be viewed as a multi-layered experience incorporating art historical references ranging from European classicism to American contemporary culture, often combining elements of each to achieve a unique vision informed by all its sources.
Condo’s work is in collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Judith Rothschild Foundation, Philadelphia; The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica; Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Ministère de la Culture, Paris; Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, Île de France, Paris; Städel Museum, Frankfurt; Dakis Joannou Collection Foundation, Athens; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona; and the Doron Sebbag Art Collection, ORS Ltd., Tel Aviv.
Condo has been invited to lecture at many prestigious institutions, including Columbia University, Yale University, Pasadena Art Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also taught a six-month course at Harvard University entitled “Painting Memory.”
In 1999, Condo received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2005, he received the Francis J. Greenberger Award; and in 2013, Condo was honored by the New York Studio School. In 2011, the New Museum, New York, presented the retrospective exhibition, Mental States, which traveled to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Hayward Gallery, London; and Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt.
George Condo is represented by Skarstedt Gallery, New York, and Sprüth Magers, Berlin.
George Condo: The Way I Think is organized by The Phillips Collection