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5 things you need to know about George Condo

Interesting facts about the critically acclaimed contemporary American artist known for his unique figurative paintings and prints

He jokingly said at a conference that he must have thrown millions of dollars in the trash while working for Andy Warhol.

The art world is filled with talents, and each of us are by nature more sensitive to some artists than others. George Condo is and has been one of my favourite contemporary artists for a while now. I started following his work around 15 years ago, when he was known to a small group of seasoned collectors before exploding to the forefront of the art scene around five years ago.

This year alone, he has broken his own auction records multiple times, has held several sold-out solo shows, and was selected to be exhibited aside Pablo Picasso during Honk Kong Art Week.

While information about this amazing artist is not hard to find, here are five interesting facts about him that are little known to the public.

He jokingly said at a conference that he must have thrown millions of dollars in the trash while working for Andy Warhol.
  1. Before he became a painter, Condo received a formal education in classical music. After years studying classical music, he realised that the most iconic melodies from Bach or Beethoven were all built in an almost scientific manner, with very strict rules and patterns governing their respective compositions. This sense of rigidity in the composition proved to be too frustrating for Condo, who then chose to express his art through drawing and painting. Although known predominantly for his paintings, Condo states that he enjoys drawing more, as the practice is less complicated and allows for more freedom.
  2. Condo does not use models. Unlike most painters, when doing portraits he paints purely based on mental images and never resorts to using models or reference images. The “Old Fake Masters” series that brought him much acclaim was executed exclusively by painting what the artist had in mind, with no other of visual support.
  3. He cares more about the general composition of the painting than the depiction of a particular subject. This is especially true with his latest body of work, where he has gone on record saying that he likes diagonal composition. When drawing or painting, Condo would consider the artwork complete and stop working on it not based on what he was able to fit in, but rather when he is satisfied with the overall balance of the composition.
  4. Condo invented the concept of “Artificial Realism”, which translates into the realistic representation of what is artificial. The result of this practice is drawings and paintings that depict various characters all fused into one body. Portraits often have several faces, and perspective gets broken down, allowing the viewer to see a multitude of faces and emotions all at once.
  5. When Condo moved to New York in the ’80s, one of his first jobs was at Andy Warhol’s studio. More specifically, Condo was in charge of applying diamond dust to Warhol’s prints. He was also in charge of discarding all the prints that did not make the cut by taking it to the dumpster every day. He jokingly said at a conference that he must have thrown millions of dollars in the trash while working for Warhol.

Some of George Condo’s paintings are available at the Opera Gallery, and few things bring me more joy than being able to see these masterpieces in the flesh, as it were.

The writer is the director of Opera Gallery Dubai

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