« I justwanted to say, 'There must be a way to work
figuratively that doesn’t end up looking like some
boring realism, some boring photorealism.' The point
is not to see how well somebody paints a figure,
but something beyond that. A way of saying that the
figure itself becomes a map of a number of intellectual
processes involved in the idea of making an art
work.» George Condo, 2004
George Condo (1957)
Born on December 10, 1957 in Concord, New Hampshire, George Condo grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, near Boston. His father taught physics and logic at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. His mother was a medical technology assistant. Even as a schoolboy, Condo was interested in philosophy, the fine arts, classical music, and later, jazz. For two-and-a-half years, he studied music theory and art history at UMass in Lowell, then joined a small silk screening workshop in Boston. His experience there motivated him to go to New York in 1981/82, where he made silk screens for nine months as an assistant in Andy Warhol’s Factory. After spending seven months in California, he returned to New York, where he met Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. At his early solo shows in 1983 and 1984 in New York, he showed surrealist-inspired landscapes done in a varnished, Old-Masters-style. For his first solo show at Bischofberger’s gallery in 1985, he filled the walls with 160 of his paintings and 238 drawings of landscapes, clowns, and figures. At this time, he began his long study of Velázquez, Goya, David, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and others.
In 1985, Walter Dahn and Dokoupil, both members of the artists’ group called the Mülheimer Freiheit, invited Condo to Cologne, where he spent a couple of months. Afterward, he moved to Paris, trying to break away from the New York scene, of which he had become an integral member. During his ten years in Paris, Condo intensified his study of Picasso. In 1989 he began collaborating with a Parisian foundry in making his first bronzes commissioned by Bischofberger. In 1991 Condo and William S. Burroughs published Burroughs’ novella, Ghost of Chance, through the Whitney Museum of American Art; Condo provided the illustrations for the book. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him with the Academy Award in Art. In 2002 he produced the Jazz Sculptures, made of highly polished stainless steel or steel painted in colored lacquer.
2005 saw his first museum exhibition, titled 100 Women; the show was a retrospective of his paintings at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg and the Kunsthalle Bielefeld.