Rethinking Reality with George Condo

Rethinking Reality with George Condo

Condo coined two terms to describe his radical art style – artificial realism and psychological realism.

2 min read

George Condo in his Spring Street Studio, for Vanity Fair

For fifty years, George Condo has been questioning the makeup of our reality. Born in 1957, Condo was obsessed with drawing and painting from an early age – however he originally went to school for music. At twenty-three years old, Condo left his New England home for New York City, where he got a job at Andy Warhol’s Factory. In the 80s the city was brimming with art movements – pop art, neo-expressionism, minimalism and more. When asked what he called his own style, he answered “I guess you could call it artificial realism.” 

George Condo Artifical Realism

Condo’s paintings are filled with references to popular culture, while also acknowledging the weight of art history. He has worked with hip hop artists like Kanye West and Travis Scott, and borrows freely from baroque masters and 20th century giants. He rejects the binary between “high-brow” and “low-brow” as false – preferring to understand all of it as part of a broader construction of reality. His cartoonish representations expose the inherent unseriousness of a self-important culture through pastiche –  the self-aware imitation of other styles and symbols. The result is a genre-bending delirium that exposes the twisted underbelly of our world. 

Although he coined the term in the 1980s, it is especially relevant to our current time. Condo wants to present reality as it is experienced:

I don't wanna be a representational painter. I want to paint what I think is on the interior, what's actually going through their mind as opposed to what they look like.”

Building on the work of Pablo Picasso, Condo developed psychological cubism. While Picasso’s cubism displayed different perspectives of a 3D object on a single plane, George Condo’s psychological cubism presents myriad states a person can embody, layered on top of each other or as fragments of a whole. If Artificial Realism questions the logic of our exterior world, psychological cubism portrays the complexity of our interior lives.

George Condo Psychological Cubism



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