From Kanye West to Goya: George Condo on the art of influence

By T-Shirt Guy / a couple of years ago

Los Angeles, California (CNN)Considered one of America's most influential contemporary artists working today, George Condo's career spans three illustrious decades. From his early days as a punk guitarist, to a stint working for Andy Warhol in 1981 and his collaboration with Kanye West for the cover of his 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, Condo's career, like his work, reveals a willingness to take risks.

Known for his skewed take on classic portrait paintings, Condo's work straddles the lines between old and new, familiar and unsettling, conventional and radical. CNN Style caught up with the artist at his first L.A. exhibition in nearly 20 years, “Entrance to the Void”, to discuss art, music and taking inspiration from madness.
    Your work is known to be rooted in art history. Has it always been that way or did it evolve over time?
    My work has always dealt with art history because I love it. And it's all about including everything that you like in your work, I mean art is about everything that influences you in life.
    To represent reality is really kind of a falsehood in painting, because the reality that you're representing is a sort of continuum of ideas that have existed in art, as an artist, since whenever; going back to the Egyptians and hieroglyphics, to the extent that they represent figures, represent language. And so the languages, and the interchangeability of language in painting, to me, is what's most interesting.
    What I'd love to do would be like an old master animated film; sort of the idea of a motion picture, but like motion painting. Because when you think about a painting, it's a frame, it's like one still from a Disney movie, and you don't see what happened before the painting, you don't see what happened after, so it would be nice to be able to see what lead to the painting, and what it continued. I'd do it like Disney, I'd have real illustrators and people that were working you know — really great draftsmen.
    Actually I think that one of the funny things about abstract expressionism and why art became so abstract in the 40s and the 50s, is because all the really great draftsmen that were incredibly technically gifted were sort of inducted into the use of making millions of frames in these animated films. But when you look at those pages, like of the dwarfs of “Snow White” and all that, and you see the drawings, they're amazing. Incredibly technical, beautiful drawings, they remind me of you know, Bosch or somebody.

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