Who is George Condo?

Exhibition at The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.

Installation view of George Condo: The Way I Think. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

With a net worth of almost as much as the celebrities he creates works for, George Condo has quickly taken over the celebrity art world. Even if you have never heard his name, chances are you have seen some of his work. The truth is, Condo has a foothold over our culture in ways that we may not even know. Condo was born in Concord, New Hampshire, and has worked with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Jack Kerouac. One of his biggest clients has been Kanye West, who he worked with to explore everything from twitter profile pictures to album cover art and back-up dancers for a VMA performance.

Condo is also known for his breakdown of pictorial images in a way that differs from mainstream art historical styles such as expressionism or surrealism. Instead, he creates a hybridization of different styles to create his own unique one. His art is filled with inventiveness and existential humor. The Way I think surveys over 200 works spanning Condo’s entire career, including a few drawings of when he was just eight year old. This exhibition gives us a view into the mind of the artist and how he sees the world around him. It is rather extraordinary to peer into the humorous world of someone who is as talented and established as Condo.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Performers of the Belle Époque: May Belfort

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

May Belfort_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May Belfort, 1895. Crayon, brush, and spatter lithograph, printed in five colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in red, black, gray, and yellow on wove paper, 31 5⁄16 × 24 in. Private collection

“It goes without saying that proofs before letters or prints on special paper of posters . . . are more valuable than ordinary copies.” —author Charles Hiatt

With her little girl stage persona, black cat, and nonsensical songs, Irish singer May Belfort charmed Parisian audiences at a time when there was growing interest in British entertainers. On view in Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque are three iterations of this work: a rare trial proof (one of only three known impressions) and two finished posters (one of which incorporates the name of the venue where Belfort performed). All three show how effectively Toulouse-Lautrec isolated color—seen in Belfort’s trademark ruby red lips and dress—to package and promote performers. Similar in size, May Milton is considered a pendant poster. The two performers were romantically involved.

A Charged Moment

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

Englishman at the Moulin Rouge_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge, 1892. Brush and spatter lithograph, printed in six or seven colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in aubergine, blue, red, yellow, and black on wove paper. State II/II, 21 × 14 3/4 in. Private collection

At the Moulin Rouge, La Goulue and Her Sister and The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge, shown here, make an informal pair. They share a similar handling of large, flat expanses of color juxtaposed with refined tonal gradations achieved through the spatter of lithographic ink. British artist William Warrener posed for the male figure in this print. Toulouse-Lautrec first drew a portrait of Warrener and then developed a painting. The lithograph went through a black-and-white state and a color state, seen here, each printed in an edition of 100 impressions. The scene reveals a sexually charged moment. A wealthy client entertains the seduction of two flirtatious Moulin Rouge dancers, Rayon d’Or and La Sauterelle, suggesting the practice of prostitution common at Montmartre’s nightclubs. The cropping of the image enhances its immediacy, and the man’s inclined posture reinforces the nature of their exchange.