George Condo

American, b. 1957

Untitled, 1982, mixed media on paper, 22 x 30 inches

Improvisation I, 1984, oil and collage on canvas, 18 x 14 inches

Untitled, 1982, mixed media on paper, 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 inches


George Condo’s work, ranging from painting to sculpture to printmaking, to drawing, to music, embodies the clash between traditional European-art making, and popular culture. Condo coined the term “Artificial Realism”, to identify his style, which he describes as, “the realistic representation of that which is artificial”.  His works primarily consist of portraits that often play off of earlier forms of realism such as royal portraiture, genre painting, and Spanish still life painting. Condo however, renders his subjects in a cartoonish, disjointed fashion. His subjects are both real and fictional, and range in archetypal legend, from Jesus, to Kanye West, to Playboy bunnies, to Queen Elizabeth. His imagery is often grotesque, and toes the line between the bizarre and the beautiful, the respected and the despised.

A native of Concord, New Hampshire, Condo began school at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.  There he studied Art History and Music Theory, before moving to Boston to work in a silk screen shop. At that time he was in a band called The Girls, with abstract painter Mark Dagley and avant garde musician Dave Hild. The Girls opened for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Grey in 1979, and after meeting Basquiat, Condo immediately moved to New York to focus on a career as an artist.

In the early 1980s, Condo began exhibiting in New York, primarily in the East Village. During that time he worked in Warhol’s factory, applying diamond dust to Warhol’s Myths series. He moved to L.A. for a brief period of time before moving to Cologne, Germany, where he worked with artists from the Mulheimer Freiheit group. His first solo exhibition in Europe was at Monika Sprueth Gallery in 1984.

Condo is the recipient of an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Francis J. Greenberger award, and the Annual Artist’s Award from ArtsConnection, New York. In 2011, the New Museum did a mid-career retrospective of his work, which made its way to Rotterdam and Frankfurt. He was also the subject of a documentary called “Condo Painting” directed by John McNaughton. Condo is a rare type known as an “artist’s artist”, working towards a consistent personal vision, without regards for fads in the art world. He has been called one of the most influential American Painters living today.