Monday, February 7, 2011
(George Condo, Homeless Harlequins, 2004)
It’s certainly a good feeling to be able to identify the works and artists George Condo refers to when viewing his retrospective at the New Museum. It made me feel smart, in the know. “Ah, that’s Ingres.” But the next thought is inevitably, “Boy, is that ugly.” Grotesque is more precise. Outsized boobs, popping eyeballs, elongated hairy limbs. There’s no respite from it. There’s no beauty, save for the amazing paint handling and confident drawing.
Does this make Condo’s work powerful social critique? Not immediately. On site, I didn’t feel offended, I didn’t feel a rousing sense of agreement. And this might be because, in numbers, critique is overwhelming. But in hindsight – and in looking at individual images online - it has whammy power.
Does this mean Condo’s work is actually more suited for reproduction and speed? Are the paintings each a quick, slick stab? I’ll go back with that in mind.