Sale: 540 / Evening Sale, June 09. 2023 in Munich Lot 40


George Condo
The Life We Love, 2004.
Oil on canvas
€ 280,000 - 360,000

$ 308,000 - 396,000

The Life We Love. 2004.
Oil on canvas.
Signed, dated and titled on the reverse. 152 x 121.5 cm (59.8 x 47.8 in).
• A masterpiece among George Condo’s hybrid paintings.
• Artificiality meets reality, Old Masters clash with contemporary aesthetics.
• The dangling carrot is a metaphor of false hope, when the work was made, it was one of his main motifs.
• Along with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman, the artist has long been one of the voices of US-American art celebrated around the world.
• In 2019, his works were part of the main show at the Venice Biennale
• In 2020, the artist signed with the gallery Hauser & Wirth, which opened its new West Hollywood branch with a George Condo exhibition in 2023

PROVENANCE: Sandra Gering Gallery, New York.
Private collection Hesse.

EXHIBITION: still. michael BEVILACQUA, george CONDO, jane SIMPSON, Sandra Gering Gallery, New York, February 17 - March 19, 2005 (with the gallery's label on the reverse).

"Rather than a narrative there is often a philosophical subtext which acts as a compositional structure. I painted a number of paintings representig the carrot. It's a metaphor of false hope, the carrot is dangling in front of you, like the dagger in Hamlet."

George Condo, quoted from: George Condo, Existential Portraits, 2006, p. 12.

"With surprising versatility, Condo incessantly provokes artificiality and reality to become indistinct in the eyes of the observers. In and with his pictures we may confidently leave the "world we know" behind us. Any form of efficiency, control and unambiguousness dissolves. Loss of control is the only diagnosis we can really rely on."
The artist Axel Heil about the artist George Condo, 2023.

Called up: June 9, 2023 - ca. 18.18 h +/- 20 min.

George Condo was born in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1957 and studied music theory and art history at Lowell University in Massachusetts from 1976 to 1978. He plays classical guitar with great virtuosity and also played in the punk rock band "The Girls" in Boston. During one of their gigs he met Jean-Michel Basquiat, who would persuade him to move to New York, where he soon became well-known in the local art scene. He worked as a printer at Andy Warhol's "Factory" and maintained close artistic exchange with Allen Ginsberg and Keith Haring. During a lengthy stay in Los Angeles, he learned the Old Master glazing techniques. In 1985 he left the American world of art for Europe. Living in Paris most of the time, he spent a full decade exploring new cultural impressions.

The experience he had gained during this time, as well as the contact with European art in general, were formative for the development of his painting style, which he himself describes as "Artificial Realism". A style that can be described as a synthesis of art-historical references and contemporary aesthetics, however, he does not directly convert the style of the respective epoch or his role models in his works. Under the impression of a wide variety of influences, he allows his own artistic visions to emerge on the canvas, and skillfully combines the trivial with high culture, the beautiful with the grotesque. In many cases, the influences are often clearly recognizable in his works, but in other cases it is not possible to decipher all the symbols and references. A circumstance that the artist is well aware of, because: "It's the viewer who really decides what's going on in the artwork, not the maker." (George Condo, quoted from: George Condo, The Way I Think, Louisiana Channel, Video, online: This artistic approach is also clearly expressed in "This Life We Love". In the typical George Condo style, Christian symbolism is combined with surrealist influences and humorously staged objects that are reminiscent of the world of comics. [AR]

George Condo - The Life We Love

The party is over.
The party isn't over yet. The possible spontaneous attribution of this utterly unusual picture requires a certain connoisseurship. And again not. It shows everything. Clear and obvious. The dream is over, a life at the edge - of the table? Is that the case? Is it really?
You already know it, the painting with the dangling carot is a picture by George Condo. It is a "hybrid painting", a programmatic picture and a "masterpiece". When it was created in 2004, the American artist had already painted everything – always new and always programmatically different. A particularly ruthless "fine painting" when he felt like it. The artist is generous. He still paints himself, and each cornucopia is still an example of his talent. The present one is also a rare "giddy" masterpiece. The eyes of many enthusiastic collectors today can hardly believe those critics who for many years saw just another "eclectic position of exotic constructions" in the smugly confident palette of the New Yorker by choice. They were basically right, but the applause came from the other side, and would soon be unmistakable. Condo, who always chose to move about in the peripheries of the extraordinary, had long been a prophet of an artificial paradise that had almost once existed. Today George Condo is celebrated alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman. He has long been one of the main voices of American art of the 1980s that has received worldwide attention, an artists' artist, and visual creator of a time in which elusive offshoots of an " other tradition" were able to gain undreamt-of momentum. In uncertain times, Condo's pictures provide convincing certainties of what it means to gain the immediate present from the hopeless "fabrication of fictions".
By the end of the 1980s at the latest, George Condo saw one of the most enigmatic paintings of early Renaissance: Piero della Francesca's "Pala Montefeltro", a Madonna and Child with the saint and donor expanded into a "Sacra Conversazione". The painting, already far ahead of its time, is also world-famous for an unusual detail. A large egg dangles on a chain in the central axis of the picture, above and behind the figure of Mary, which dominates the foreground. Beyond all iconological allusions, the artist, above all, presents one thing: a strange thing that promises an unfulfilled immediacy even after 500 years.
"The Life We Love" is about delicacies. Such a special kind, specific consistency and smoke that can probably be smelled from afar. Our view is led "outside", pulled into an unknown distance. In the foreground we see a strangely "set table", certainly not a "classical" still life, but perhaps an allegory - one could think of Pieter Bruegel's "Land of Cockaigne" charged with the most diverse meanings. However, the genre from occidental painting, which has been popular for centuries, does not apply here. We almost tend to speak of "inhabited" and "figures" - the vegetables have become independent, they are not only fresh, they are alive. Very much so. On closer inspection, "inside" is actually "outside". The tablecloth, traditionally starched with egg white, defines the only apparently familiar sight as an "inside view" of things. The horizon is below the table’s rear edge of the table. And that's not all: Imposition disguised as hope looks different. We believe the painter that this should be the life we love. Life is a burden, no question about that. We do nothing more or nothing less than chasing the dubious carrot from Bugs Bunny's comic worlds, however, we never manage to get it. The fact that Condo shows the carrot dangling in the middle of the picture with its valuable "greens" as a sign of organic glory also opens up another association. It hangs from a thin thread, in terms of meaning exactly where Leonardo's "Salvator Mundi" could easily appear from the depth of the room - but there is no salvation. Instead there is only emptiness, far into the baroque hinterland. Clouds in the sky, Nimbostratus, not the slightest doubt. The ready-to-harvest vegetables are now regarded as the ultimate promise of salvation, the speaking messenger of a dreamy vegan world.
Condo - one name. one program. In "Self Creator", the bizarrely transformed letters of his name had already led to incredible and cheerful arrangements in oil on canvas. Confidently "animated" with all kinds of beings whose only rationale was their appearance. Radioactive representatives on lush green grass and, to top it all off, embedded in landscapes as apparently "artificial" as O'Rear's screensaver Bliss, which has promised us reality as pleasant fiction as the opener of "Windows XP" for more than two decades.
Incessantly and with an astonishing versatility, Condo lets artificiality and reality blur in the eye of the beholder. In and with his pictures we can confidently leave the "known world" behind us. Any form of efficiency, control and clarity dissolves. Loss of control is the only diagnosis we can really rely on. Burning cigarettes on yellow peppers in a diligent discourse with a fellow on an aubergine - presumably grade 1 and with a questionable carbon footprint, definitely from far away.

It's the world we love, the only one we know. It's always the others who have a guilty conscience – Condo is also sure about that.

Axel Heil


Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for George Condo "The Life We Love"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.