25 June–25 September 2011Museumpark 18-20
NL-3015 CX Rotterdam
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a unique collection of works by the Surrealists, including masterpieces by Dalí and Magritte. The work of George Condo (1957) has a surreal quality that complements this collection. The selection of works charts the artist’s development from 1983 to the present day. His paintings and sculptures explore the genre of portraiture, the human physiognomy and various ‘states of mind.’
Along with painters such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo was instrumental in the international revival of painting in the 1980s. His astonishing technical ability, stylistic versatility and inventive subject matter have been deeply influential to two generations of American and European painters.
More than thirty paintings with a variety of styles and subjects are presented in a salon-style hanging at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Featuring a range of fantasy characters, these portraits often incorporate elements from masterpieces by artists including Velasquez and Picasso, such as ‘Memories of Picasso’ (1989). The characters are recognisable archetypes—butlers, businessmen, saints and other historical figures—familiar despite their humorously grotesque features, such as ‘Nude Homeless Drinker’ (1999). The characters in Condo’s paintings are both comic and tragic. This group of portraits is complemented with a series of sixteen sculptures in gilded bronze.
Additionally the exhibition features a selection of paintings from various moments in Condo’s career, portraying lonely and marginalized figures as well as scenes of manic decadence. There are also a grouping of large-scale paintings created over the last thirty years which plays with the boundaries between abstraction and figuration. For Condo, these paintings also depict a mental state—that of the artist. Condo recently stated: ‘Representational pictures are the artist’s body—abstractions are pictures of the artist’s mind.’
American artist George Condo was born in New Hampshire. He has occupied a prominent position in the art world for nearly three decades. Condo studied art history and music theory at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Condo’s work has been exhibited only once before in the Netherlands: in 1985 at Galerie ‘t Venster in Rotterdam. He has exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe. His work is included in the collections of museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.
‘George Condo: Mental States’ has been organised in partnership with the Hayward Gallery in London and curated by Ralph Rugoff (Director, Hayward Gallery). The exhibition was shown previously at the New Museum (New York) and was a great success. After its presentation in Rotterdam it will travel to Hayward Gallery and Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt). A richly illustrated catalogue with the same title is available from the museum shop. It contains essays by Ralph Rugoff (director of the Hayward Gallery) and Laura Hoptman (curator at the Museum of Modern Art) and contributions by the writers Will Self and David Means.
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Private Collection, Courtesy Simon Lee Gallery, © George Condo, 2011.