Review: ‘Condo Painting’

"Vanity, Thou Hast No Bounds" would be a better title for John McNaughton's "Condo Painting," an overextended docu about New York painter George Condo that fails to make a good case for his talent.

“Vanity, Thou Hast No Bounds” would be a better title for John McNaughton’s “Condo Painting,” an overextended docu about New York painter George Condo that fails to make a good case for his talent. Pic is of interest more for some fleeting (though unilluminating) footage of his friends William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg shortly before they died. Shot on Hi-8 video and transferred (reasonably well) to 35mm, with some fancy effects and a lively music track, this may cut it with Gotham’s art crowd and McNaughton completists, but few others. No personal signature is evident from the already chameleon-like helmer.

McNaughton started the docu at the request of N.Y.’s Pace Wildenstein Gallery in ’96, and the film focuses mostly on Condo’s reshaping of a single painting, which bathetically ends up looking like a cel from Disney’s “Fantasia.” Seemingly influenced by Hollywood cartoons, TV and fairground clowns, Condo is an artist who knows he’s one and likes talking about it (“Paintings exist beyond a painter’s will,” etc.), but that’s not enough to sustain this feature-length docu, which is padded in the last third with some nonsense about hunting for “pods.”

Condo Painting

Production

A USA Films release (in U.S.) of a Pod Squad Prods. production. (International sales: Good Machine Intl., N.Y.) Produced by Dana Giacchetto. Co-producer, Mark Pollard. Directed by John McNaughton. Screenplay, George Condo, McNaughton.

Crew

Camera (Foto-Kem color), McNaughton; editor, Elena Maganini; music, Ken Hale,Jim Sampas. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 6, 1999. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

George Condo, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, John Sampas, Anna Condo, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, Patrick Achdjian.

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