Condo-mania in Manhattan: From fashion to album covers and a new retrospective, artist George Condo is popping up all over pop culture
New York City-based artist George Condo seems to be having a bit of a pop-culture moment. I first became aware of his creepy ouevre -- think -- last January, when fashion designer Adam Kimmel used Condo's life and artwork as inspiration for a fall/winter 2010 menswear collection -- going with Condo on field trips to casinos (the artist has a fondness for gambling, Kimmel told me) and having some of Condo's outlandish canvas creations translated into grotesque masks that were worn by the models clustered in a casino setting at Kimmel's Paris presentation.
The original cover art for Kanye West's most recent album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (released in November) -- a portrait of West cavorting with a winged nude female creature that supposedly caused a kerfuffle with retailers -- was a Condo painting comissioned by the rapper. An alternative cover for the album -- depicting a ballerina holding a drink glass -- was also painted by Condo.
But Condo-mania really started to sink in during my flight to the European men's runway shows earlier this month. The Jan. 17 issue of the New Yorker featured the first of that magazine's interminably long profiles that I actually managed to read in its entirety -- in a single sitting. It was a profile of Condo written by Calvin Tomkins and titled: "Portraits of Imaginary People: How George Condo Reclaimed Old Master Painting."
What I'd forgotten since then -- but was reminded of Wednesday as I was flipping through a copy of Details magazine while en route to New York City for Fashion Week (which gets underway in earnest Thursday morning) -- was that the profile was due in large part to a nearly 30-year retrospective of the artist's twisted take on portraiture that opened at the New Museum of Contemporary Art here on Jan. 26.
Schedule permitting, I hope to check it out while I'm here. Partly to satisfy my curiousity, but parlty because his creepy, freakish menagerie of twisted imperfections feels like it might be the perfect antidote to a week's worth of perfectly prepped and primped presentations of flawless fashion folk.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from New York City
Photos: Left, a visitor to the Cosmoscow modern art show in Moscow walks past George Condo's "Girl With Ponytail" in December. Credit: Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP/Getty. Right, a scene from fashion designer Adam Kimmel's Condo-inspired fall/winter 2010 menswear presentation in Paris in January 2010. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times.