Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now

George Condo, Diaries of Milan, 1984. Oil on canvas, 6' 2" x 6' 8" (188 x 203.2 cm). Gift of Steven and Alexandra Cohen. © 2012 George Condo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

George Condo. George Condo. Diaries of Milan. 1984

Oil on canvas, 6' 2" x 6' 8" (188 x 203.2 cm). Gift of Steven and Alexandra Cohen. © 2018 George Condo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

GLENN LOWRY: Artist, George Condo.

GEORGE CONDO: This painting [is] part of a series called The Expanding Canvases ... an improvisational group of works that [were] done for the most part in a single go. I’d start from the middle of the painting and all of those fragments, symbols and architectural structures were just drawn out automatically to reach the edges and the corners of the painting. And the idea essentially would be that the painting continued to expand in the mind of the viewer.

GLENN LOWRY: Among the diverse images and constructs that appear, one of the more noticeable is the artist’s name in the center of the painting.

GEORGE CONDO: One of my art dealers said, “Just make sure they remember your name.” So I painted my name. (Laughs) There [are] two specific…name areas in the painting. But there are also clouds with little signposts on them that say, “God … Hope … Money” and there are clowns and tabletops with objects on them and rib-cages and anatomical fragments.

Expanding Canvases are like self-portraits of what’s going through your mind [and] the mind-set of everyday people… That kind of empathy with humanity is something that we all shared together during that early point of the 80s.

GLENN LOWRY: Condo, along with artists like Keith Haring, was an active participant in New York’s thriving East Village art scene.

GEORGE CONDO: Keith Haring started to expand the idea of symbols and relating them to the social situations of our time. And in my case, it was more like various periods of art and different languages of painting were all colliding and metamorphosizing into one form of contemporary painting. What I got from Keith was the idea of a sort of instantaneous art…whatever’s in your mind, you put it out in paint.

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