Just In: A Keynote Painting by George Condo
Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting) (1984), George Condo, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015
Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to announce that George Condo’s 1984 oil on canvas Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting) will be offered in the March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design sale. Famed for his farcical, often ferocious portraits of imagined subjects, Condo is widely admired for his use of Old Master painting techniques, and for bringing those methods into relevance in contemporary art. Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting) was executed at a crucial point in Condo’s employment of the Old Masters approach, and at a pivotal juncture in his artistic career. As Calvin Tomkins wrote in his 2011 profile of Condo for The New Yorker: “The techniques he had been teaching himself over the past year  came into full play in five ‘name paintings,’ where the letters ‘C-O-N-D-O’ were spelled out large in surreal, exquisitely rendered settings. Graffiti artists spray-painted their names on walls and subway trains; Condo emblazoned his in Old Master landscapes.”
Condo began painting in the manner of the Old Masters in 1982. The Massachusetts native moved to New York in 1979 and became friends with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, both of whom started out as graffiti artists. Condo gave Los Angeles a try in 1982, moved back to New York the next year, and was in the Canary Islands in 1984 when he made “the paintings that launched his reputation,” according to Tomkins.
Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting) was created the same year as Condo’s first solo exhibition in New York. The show, of course, was a hit. But Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting), apart from being a landmark work in Condo’s career, stands on its own merits. The artist’s name floats in the sky above a strange and vacant Magritte-like landscape, and yet that name is twinkling. This is work full of both meaning and mirth.
Tomkins, Calvin. “Portraits of Imaginary People.” New Yorker 17 Jan. 2011: n. pag. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.
Plagens, Peter. “Fake Tiepolos and the Cabbage Patch Queen.” ARTnews 1 July 2007: n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Higgie, Jennifer. “Time’s Fool.” Frieze 5 May 2007: n. pag. Web. 5 Nov. 2014.
Untitled (Surreal Graffiti Painting)
Oil on canvas
Dated lower left; retains Egret Management, Maloney Gallery, and Barbara Gladstone Gallery labels verso
Canvas: 19.75″ x 15.75″; Frame: 27.75″ x 23.75″
Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000