Installation view of George Condo: The Way I Think. Photo: Lee Stalsworth
What does George Condo mean when he speaks of his “drawing paintings?” We interviewed the artist with this and other questions about his installation at the Phillips, The Way I Think. Have more questions? Join us for a conversation between Condo and Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs Klaus Ottmann on Thursday, May 25.
What are “drawing paintings?” George Condo: “Drawing paintings” are something that were a reaction to the consistent hierarchy that supposedly exists between drawing and painting. What I wanted to do was combine the two of them and make drawing and painting on the same level, that there was no real difference between drawing and painting and by combining pastel, charcoal, pencil, and all these various different drawing mediums on a canvas, it would be an experience for the viewer to see that drawing and painting together can exist in one—I would say—happy continuum.
How has your drawing evolved over time? GC: Well, this show gave me a chance to figure that one out. I saw the drawings that my mother had saved from when I was 4 and 5 years old until I was about 7 or 8, and really it was all about doing everything right, and making sure I got it right, and that everything looked precise. And then once I started to understand more of the conceptual qualities of art in the 70’s and the idea of deconstructing things, and reading more about Picasso and John Cage, well at this point you have to do everything wrong. You have to break all the rules. So the evolution went from doing everything right to doing everything wrong, but still trying to make sure that the pictures themselves are intact and that there aren’t any loose ends.
Photos of the salon-style gallery walls and hundreds of artist notebooks featured in George Condo: The Way I Think are taking over our Instagram feed. Here are some of our favorite ArtGrams from the installation. Share and tag your photos in and around The Phillips Collection for a chance to be featured on the blog.
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ArtGrams is a monthly series in which we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos. Hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.
George Condo, The Discarded Human. Photo: Lee Stalsworth
George Condo’s The Discarded Human is a rather harsh image of a female figure leaning back and staring at the viewer. Condo takes away a structured perspective, making the figure’s body look twisted and deformed. The woman is holding herself up with her arms, creating a strong pose for an otherwise contorted body. Attached to this body is a dark face with distorted facial features.
Everything about this work makes me uneasy. The dark tones and shades of gray create a dim mood for the scene. There’s no sign of the time of day, but I can’t help imagining it’s the middle of the night. The woman’s straight forward stare and gaping mouth make her seem like more of a monster than a human. Condo seems to do this with such ease that I feel like part of the image is him staring out at me, chuckling as he watches me try not to squirm uncomfortably.
Condo might also be making a commentary on the view we put on the female body. He has forced the pose of this figure to be contorted so as to see both her butt and breasts, but also disrupts the view with her ominous and lurking face, making us question what beauty is and where we choose to see it.