Orgy Composition 2008 - George Condo

George Condo's Body of Art - 'So hideous, so real'

This week we're highlighting 5 artists from the eagerly anticipated Body of Art - we start with George Condo

We're gearing up to bring you some great interviews on Phaidon and Artspace in the coming weeks with a whole host of artists, curators, academics, institute directors and all round artworld big wigs all talking on, and around, the subject of Body of Art. In fact, our eagerly awaited book has sparked all manner of interest from those in the know and we're really looking forward to bringing you some of their opinions, ideas and views based on how artists have used the human body in art. You can read our introduction to the book here to give you a little bit of an idea of some of the themes they'll be focusing on when we start rolling them out next week.

But we know how hungry everyone is for this book - the pre-order alone is amazing - so while we ready the main meal we're going to put up some litttle canapé stories for your delectation this week. So please indulge us - for one week only - as we bring you an artwork a day, chosen on the simple basis that they were created by some of's favourite artists featured in Body of Art. Sadly we can only pick five - obviously the choice in the book is absolutely enormous. We kick off today with the genius George Condo and his 2008 work, Orgy Composition. 


George Condo photographed at the walk through of his Simon Lee London show last year
George Condo photographed at the walk through of his Simon Lee London show last year

Since the start of his career in the early 1980s George Condo's richly inventive creations have merged the beautiful with the grotesque, and the recognizable with the profoundly strange. Deeply engaged with the traditions of Old Master painting, as well as with twentith-century comic art and cartoons, Condo's art filters the past through the outlandish humour and imagination of a decidely contemporary sensibility. Featuring an invented cast of tragi-comic characters, often pictured in the throes of frantic desperation, unhinged rage or manic glee, his paintings arouse horror, fascination and, above all, delight. It is tempting to read many of Condo's paintings, especially Orgy Composition, as social allegory, reflecting a society oscillating between irrational exuberance and crashing despair.

Condo's paintings offer a biting comentary on contemporary culture's noisy and continuous stream of scandals, meltdowns and celebrity shenanigans. According to Condo they reflect the 'madness of everyday life', evoking the idea of what is going on behind closed doors in religion, within big corporations, in the private home or in the psychiatrist's chair'. Speaking of his brothel paintings. Condo says 'they may not be pretty, but I think we can all see ourselves in these pictures. They are so hideous and yet so utterly real.'

Check back tomorrow for another work featured in Body of Art. Meanwhile, learn more about the book here and pre-order a copy here