George Condo

One performance artist was painting, the other was ironing; they wore crochet.

We met our guide, a curator and art dealer, Jonathan, at the New Museum on the Bowery.

From the museum’s top floor, there are fantastic views — in the distance, the bridges and buildings of Lower Manhattan and right beneath us, the Festival of Ideas for the New City — sidewalk exhibits on community supported agriculture, art in the parks, children’s centers, new kinds of energy, just way cool stuff.

My Number One Son and I were at the museum for the last day of the George Condo exhibit, Mental States. Jonathan knew a lot about Condo. He showed us Condo’s work from the early days — when he hung with graffitti artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. His work was displayed vertically, as in a salon.

Jonathan told us that Condo is prolific. He is both derivative and original. His work is an homage to art history and a contemporary take on cartooning and art on the streets.

This is the clean version of Condo's art for the album cover.

My son said one painting reminded him of the Kanye West album cover, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Jonathan was impressed. “Yes, that was his work.”

Just then, a guy who looked like a handsome version of Al Pacino, slapped Jonathan and hugged him.

“Hey man.”

“Hey man.” They hugged in that downtown-cool-guy kind of way. It was George Condo, the great man himself. He smelled of cigarettes. He was with his wife, a gorgeous filmmaker. We chatted a bit. They wandered off.

We were impressed. But no one in the big gallery paid the artist any mind.

“They don’t know it’s him,” Jonathan told us.

But we did. And it was cool. Just way cool stuff. Hey man.

I got this guided tour of contemporary art through the school auction. I was glad that I redeemed it and that H. joined me on the outing. We left the museum and headed to Astor Place.