Art Fag City at The L Magazine: George Condo’s Time is Up

by Paddy Johnson on March 3, 2011 · 5 comments The L Magazine

George Condo at The New Museum

This week at The L Magazine I discuss the George Condo Retrospective at The New Museum. One small note on the piece: while I complain about Condo not besting his Bacon references, I realized after the fact that he’s almost certainly making fun of the painter. This made the painting MUCH more enjoyable.

Art isn’t timeless. It is emotive, and though a lot of it has lasted a while, its relevance changes with the values of our culture. It even changes in relation to current trends.

Few shows have made me more aware of this durability issue than figurative painter George Condo‘s New Museum retrospective Mental States (through May 8). Not fifteen years ago, Condo was an influence on seemingly countless artists, amongst them John CurrinLisa Yuskavage and eventually, I would guess, evenDana Schutz. Today the reach of his influence has slowed considerably with the”¨ waning interest in figuration.

Dips in influence like this happen all the time, but this exhibition coinciding with a popular downturn meant I was less willing to forgive Condo’s weaknesses than I was even a few years ago. And so, while the great salon-style wall on the fourth floor brilliantly provides an overview of the artist’s career at a glance, I harped on the number of fucked-up faces with big teeth he produces. I’ve seen them too many times over the past ten years.

To read the full piece click here.


Forrest March 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

This really reenforces for me how subjective most of these things are; I feel like I’m seeing quirky figurative paintings everywhere these days. I don’t envy the task of defining useful criteria by which to evaluate art.

Sven March 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I understand why you would enjoy them more after realizing he’s approaching some of his references with satire, however, I wonder what your thoughts are on the substantiality/potency of derision (especially of past artistic practice) as a springboard for creativity. and sorry springboard is kind of a wack word.

Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 7:50 am

Do you mean how do I feel about irony and satire as a device in art? It’s just one more tool. Mostly, I like both. It’s glibness that I can’t stand, and that’s everywhere.

jssp March 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I totally agree. I went into this show expecting to want spend a fair amount of time looking at each painting, but ultimately felt a little bit bored. Many of the paintings didn’t seem to be asking much more than playing a game of “pick the reference”. Conversely, I wasn’t particularly excited about seeing the Lynda Benglis show downstairs, and was pleasantly surprised by how relevant it felt.

Grant Hammond March 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

The painting on the right reminds me of the pawn shop alien in “Men in Black”.

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