Exhibition room 2. George Condo

Condo developed a unique painting style, employing the virtuoso draftsmanship and paint handling of the old masters to depict subject matter that sprang largely from his imagination. In the context of early 1980s New York, Condo’s paintings—which he called “fake old masters”—displayed a provocative untimeliness. [...] Over the next two decades, he went on to explore an astonishing variety of aesthetic territories, from Mannerist ornamentalism to Picasso-esque Cubism, drawing from Diego Velázquez to Looney Tunes. Possessed of an enormous memory bank of art historical references, Condo synthesized these past pictorial languages and motifs to create, as he put it, “composites of various psychological states painted in different ways.” Condo is exceptionally prolific and has produced an enormous body of work since the beginning of the 1980s.

Source: The New Museum archive.newmuseum.org/index.php/Detail/Occurrence/Show/occurrence_id/1347

George Condo’s recent painting Compression VI (2011) is a summation of his nearly thirty-year fascination with Picasso’s many styles and their relations to the history of painting. Compression VI does not sum up, but rather accumulates a wide and contradictory range of motifs, all densely massed and consummately interwoven, as the title suggests. Condo’s exploration of the Cubist grid’s capacity to integrate disparate anatomies and cultural references stretches from the pioneering compositions of Picasso and Braque to Willem de Kooning’s “figurative abstractions” of the late 1940s and early ’50s.

In the 1980s, Condo turned his attention to Picasso a few years later than his friend Basquiat. Once he began, though, he enveloped Picasso in an embrace that surpasses all other contemporary artists in the range and depths he plumbs and the longevity of his grip. [...] Condo’s most remarkable feat is not his ability to absorb virtually every nuance of Picasso’s styles, but his ability to escape them. By understanding Picasso’s art so thoroughly, he forges an art that both looks to the past and is richly intertwined with life in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Source: exhibition catalogue for “Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions,” Michael FitzGerald