George Condo at The New Museum

Ringo Starr George Condo exhibit entitled "Religious Paintings" held at the Spruth Magers Lee Gallery in London.Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach and George Condo; photo by Bauer Griffin

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Ringo Starr (a drummer friend tells me) has been given an unfair shake by the general consensus. Routinely disparaged for his rudimentary drumming skills, Ringo is, in fact, something of a genius. Realizing that recording technology circa 1963 wasn’t capable of capturing the entire range of percussive nuance, Ringo adapted his style accordingly to best serve the music. He’s a team player. Of course he was, you might say: The Beatles were a textbook example of group chemistry. Best to stop sniping at Ringo the Musician.

But Ringo the Art Collector? Let’s be kind and say that he had the sense to acquire a relatively unobjectionable painting–a milky knock-off of Picasso’s neo-classical phase–by George Condo, whose art is the subject of a “sensational” retrospective at The New Museum. The adjective comes courtesy of The New York Times‘ Holland Cotter, a critic whose taste is as dubious as his prose is readable. Cotter had a few quibbles about Mental States, but otherwise waxed enthusiastic about the “variety, plenitude and multiformity” of Condo’s oeuvre.

After giving the time of day to Condo’s slick, stupid and monotonously expert achievement–sorry, Holland–I began to envy the artist. What a luxury it must be to create, not from necessity, but from choice. What an honor–and a joy!–to have sundry cultural institutions, capitalist fat-cats (not least, The New Museum’s point-man Dakis Joannou) and a former Beatle grace you with their admiration and largesse. Few dilettantes enjoy such attention. But, then, The New Museum has made the art of dilettantes something of a specialty.

My thoughts on Condo’s art are pretty well summarized here.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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