February 28, 2012 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - George Condo. Mental States
February 28, 2012

George Condo. Mental States

George Condo, “Red Antipodular Portrait,” 1996.
Oil on canvas, 152,4 x 121,9 cm.*

George Condo
Mental States

22 February–28 May 2012

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 
Römerberg, D-60311 Frankfurt
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Wed and Thur 10am–10pm

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Ironic, provocative, witty—since his beginnings in New York’s East Village in the early 1980s American artist George Condo has produced a distinctive body of work. His paintings, characterized by mordant humor, surrealist-tinged absurdity, and exuberant pathos, make repeated reference to the traditions of American and European art history of the last 500 years, from Velázquez by way of Picasso to Gorky. In partnership with the Hayward Gallery in London and curated by Hayward Director Ralph Rugoff, the Schirn is pleased to present a comprehensive retrospective of Condo’s art. Condo works in a style that can be described as artificial realism, and both his paintings and sculptures display his ongoing examination of human physiognomy and all-too-human mental states. Organized thematically and stylistically in groups, sixty-six important paintings from different creative periods, as well as a selection of roughly ten sculptures and new works by the artist will be exhibited at the Schirn.

George Condo was born in New Hampshire in 1957 and studied art history and musical theory at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He has maintained his outstanding position in the art world for almost thirty years. Next to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo exercised a decisive influence on the art scene of New York’s East Village of the 1980s. His first public show was presented at Ulrike Kantor’s gallery in Los Angeles in 1981. In Germany, it was Monika Sprüth’s gallery in Cologne that dedicated the first solo exhibition in Germany to him in 1984. Since then, his works have been shown at numerous institutions in the United States and in Europe, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, and the Musée Maillol in Paris. Works by George Condo are part of such important collections as those of the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The artist has also been influential in the world of fashion, the music industry, and the field of street culture. In 2010 George Condo collaborated with US hip hop star Kanye West and made a series of paintings which were used as album covers.

The exhibition “George Condo. Mental States” encompasses works from the last three decades. Thematically grouped into five sections – “Portraits,” “Manic Society,” “Pathos,” “Abstraction/Figuration,” and “Heads”—it offers a survey of the artist’s entire production. One focus of the show is Condo’s imaginary portraits, which, vacillating between absurdity and pathos, evoke different mental states. Presented on a large wall hung from the ceiling to the floor in the salon style, these portraits constitute the heart of the show. The figures depicted are archetypes—butlers, businessmen, clerical and historical personalities—familiar to us despite their humorously distorted features. Their eyes furnish a special characteristic. Frequently huge, not matching each other, protruding in panic or rage, they lend the grotesque or even monstrous figures something human and personal.

The exhibition “George Condo. Mental States” has been organized by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London in collaboration with Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt.

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein. CURATOR: Ralph Rugoff, Director Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London. PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Heike Höcherl (Schirn). PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik (head Press/Public Relations), Markus Farr (press spokesman), Carolyn Meyding (press officer), phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-148, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail: presse@schirn.de, www.schirn.de, (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS).

*Image above:
Private collection
Courtesy private collection, Sprüth Magers Berlin London and Per Skarstedt Gallery, New York. 
© George Condo, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents George Condo. Mental States
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