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George Condo

31 March—1 October 2023
National Museum of Monaco, Monaco

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In George Condo’s own words, “the humanoid is not a science fiction monster, it is a form of representation that uses traditional means to bring out the inner emotions onto the surface of a person”. The mimetic ideal that has predominated in the history of art has led to the creation of an incalculable number of representations that are “similar” or “comparable” to humans. However, only a few rare effigies have attained the level of “humanoids” or “golems” seemingly on the point of coming to life. Rembrandt’s portraits are among these.

But how about a form of modern painting for which the “truth” of the medium (abstraction) replaced a realist project that the invention of photography had rendered obsolete? Taking up this challenge, George Condo moved modern painting towards the “almost human”. He tackled the problem at its source: he seized Cubism, reversed its intentions and humanised it. He became the champion of “psychological Cubism”, wanting to see in the deformations painted by Picasso or Braque, not the birth of “pure painting”, but a realist exploration of the human psyche. In so doing, Condo has followed in the footsteps of Fénéon who, when he visited Picasso’s studio at the time of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, advised the young artist to devote himself to caricature. Condo has pursued this path, placing Cubist deformation on the same level as that of the caricaturists: a unique way to reinvent Figuration.

Over the course of six sections, the exhibition traces the continuity of a profuse body of work that ranges from “space beings” to Who’s Who, from Guido Reni to Bugs Bunny. Featuring specially produced paintings, the exhibition offers a glimpse of the artist’s process of invention – as crazy as it is erudite – of humanoids.