It’s about putting things together and seeing how they react to one another. Whereas a dialogue is a more placid, almost prosaic platform for discussion. One has dialogues every day. I could have a dialogue every day with the lady down the street who’s selling cupcakes. But if I say to the cupcake lady, ‘Something is wrong with the frosting. Why is it blue?’ – suddenly we’re having more of a confrontation. And then it’s memorable!
(George Condo, 2016)
On Nov. 19, 2016, Museum Berggruen opens an exhibition of works by American painter George Condo (b. 1957, Concord, New Hampshire). This first ever large-scale exhibition of contemporary art at Museum Berggruen since its opening combines works by George Condo from the early 1980s through today with works by classical modernist artists from the collection of Berlin’s Nationalgalerie. George Condo. Confrontation will be on view throughout the museum, and many of the paintings, drawings, collages by the American artist selected are to be shown to the public for the very first time in this show.
The presentation of masterpieces by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Klee and Giacometti from Museum Berggruen alongside Condo’s works develops an open field of references. Since the early 1980s, Condo refers in his works with a mixture of humor, irony, and veneration to the entire spectrum of European and American art. For his in part grotesque visual imagination, he takes up genres like the nude, the still life, and the portrait. Playfully, Condo combines references to art history, in particular formal and motivic references to the artists of classical modernism, whose once shocking cubist paintings have long since entered the canon of art history. To the same extent, popular culture also flows into Condo’s works: his portraits reveal borrowings from comic figures like Batman, Bugs Bunny, or Mickey Mouse.
The exhibition George Condo. Confrontation understands painting from the 20th and 21st century as a process of mutual references and traditions constantly in motion, still continuing today in popular culture.