“There was a time when I realized that the central focal point of portraiture did not have to be representational in any way. You don’t need to paint the body to show the truth about a character. All you need is the head and the hands.”
George Condo (b. Concord, New Hampshire, 1957) refers to his fractured, figurative works as “psychological cubism.” Condo studied art history and music theory at the University of Massachusetts Lowell before moving to Boston, where he worked in a silk screen shop and as a bassist in the band The Girls. He met Jean-Michel Basquiat after performing in New York, who encouraged him to move there and pursue a career as an artist. Condo followed his advice and worked in Andy Warhol’s Factory and founded a band before beginning to exhibit in the early 1980s. He moved to Paris for a decade in 1985 and met Beat writer William S. Burroughs, French philosopher Gilles Delueze, and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari before returning to New York. He collaborated with Burroughs on paintings, sculptures, writings, and etchings. An important aspect of the revival of figurative painting, his works are characterized by unsettling, grotesque figures that draw from popular culture while referencing works in the art historical canon, bridging high and low art. He has also worked with artists to create album covers, including Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. He has had an influence on many artists, including John Currin and Jeff Koons. Condo currently lives and works in New York.