The New Museum was the place to be last night for the opening party of George Condo's new exhibition, Mental States. The Art World's darlings set the tone for an evening of pomp and intrigue resulting in the best show I've seen at the New Museum thus far. I had been eagerly anticipating Condo's work since this fantastic piece in the New Yorker and was floored by the quality and resonance of his paintings up close.
Condo shied away from labeling the exhibition a retrospective, instead calling it a “conceptual portraiture survey” of work over the past thirty years. Divided into four sections-- the strongest of which being the fourth floor's salon style arrangement-- the show explores Condo's take on Old Master portraiture while the rest of the world was painting soup cans.
He ran around with Taaffe and Basquiat and Haring, and once pulled prints for Warhol himself. Yet unlike so many of his pals, Condo remains extremely contemporary--proven by Kanye, if no one else. His current work seems to be stretching further from portraiture into fantasy and otherworldly creatures tapped by his signature raw, languid emotion. It's electric-- all of it-- a rare look at painting through the lens of a downtown artist who's absolutely still got it.
Mental States is showing at The New Museum through May 8, 2011.