Spend a Couple Hours »George Condo: Mental States

at The New Museum through May 8

My friend Jessica directed me to the George Condo exhibit at the New Museum. I felt like a bad art student for not recognizing the name, but am glad to learn about the prolific artist now. The exhibit begins on the 4th floor where an onslaught of his work greets you. It’s actually an appropriate way to confront his manic work that ranges from dark Bacon-esque portraits (including one of my favorites, Man with Three Arms) to bright, almost slap dash paintings that look, and I mean this in a good way, like artwork from an insane asylum.

The next floor offers a series of paintings that merit more individual examination titled “Melancholia”. These disturbing, funny and sad portraits of archetypes with bloated faces and confused disembodied smiles were the most captivating of the show. Next were more provocative excessively sexual works entitled “Manic Society” and even if it makes me sound like a prude, I found their crassness uninteresting. “Abstraction” is the final room in this retrospective and featured huge layered canvases. Some of my favorites revealed small intriguing overlapping sad faces once you took a closer look.

Also on display in the other galleries is the work of sculptress Lynda Benglis. Some of her stuff is pretty cool. I liked the glowing neon blobs suspended out of the wall, but frankly it was harder to have enthusiasm for a big stick with glitter on it or pink paper mache with gift wrap sticking out of it. Too many memories of Freshman year art projects I guess.

Thanks to Jim for doing Van duty which allowed me a night out. The museum is open til 9 on Thursdays and to my happy surprise, it was free too. An even happier surprise? Birdbath has opened a cafe in the lobby!

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Posted on March 4, 2011