Kanye Hugged: A Little Moment With Mr. West at the George Condo Opening

“I don’t talk to the fuckin’ press!” Kanye West told The Observer.

We were standing in front of the titan of pop music at a party last night to celebrate artist George Condo’s first retrospective, Mental States, which opens today at The New Museum. Condo is known for painting his subjects as wild-eyed gaping clown faces, cheeks and foreheads flushed with spiky brushstrokes that intimate explosion, and always featuring distinctive askew-splayed bucked teeth. The most famous of these subjects is Kanye West, whom Condo depicted in flagrante delicto on the cover of his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (another Condo was used as the official album art, however, after Kanye tweeted that the more racy choice had been “banned” by someone). 

Naturally his world-conquering muse did not miss out — Kanye West was standing in a long back coat, gray shirt, and a gold chain to match the flash of gold grill jutting up out of his lower lip. There were crinkles under his eyes. He looked very tired.

When he was done exchanging quick conversation with a someone (“Is Jay in town, man?” “Yeah,” Kanye said. “OK, I’ll hit him up.”) The Observer walked up to Kanye West and asked what he thought about the exhibit.

West’s face, wide with a smile before, hardened as he clenched his hands on our shoulders.

“I don’t talk to the fuckin’ press!” Kanye West told The Observer.

With that we walked off, thinking incorrectly that we would not speak to Kanye West again that night.

Others at the party were more chatty than the hip-hop star. We ran into a be-stubbled James Frey coming down the extra-slim white hallway that took the art patrons to the main exhibition room. Marc Jacobs sauntered around pecking everyone on the cheek, allowing the stray whiskers of his fuchsia and aquamarine fur scarf to nuzzle against their noses.

“I love George Condo’s art!” Jacobs told The Observer as we passed from a room of abstract impressionist Condo to a room of Condo portraiture. “I love George Condo, I love Anna Condo, I love the Condo girls, I love his paintings — I love everything Condo.”

And trailing Jacobs was on-again off-again boyfriend Lorenzo Martone, in a tan fur trench coat and matching tan fur boots. He was toting around a George Condo skateboard.

The artist himself was in a loud purple tie and carrying a laptop bag. Actress LeeLee Sobieski, whose designer husband Adam Kimmel has worked with Condo, had on svelte red sweater. She’s also a big fan.

“Love it!” she said. “Love supporting George.”

Are you tight with Kayne? You guys looked chummy earlier.

“We just met him tonight, uh, Adam did a collection with George and then Kanye did a collaboration with George as well so I think there’s, like, a mutual fan thing going on.”

Like Sobieski, The Observer met Kanye for the first time that night, when he informed us he does not talk to the fucking press. After that we stepped aside.

Then, seconds later, Kanye West wrapped his arm around our shoulder, pulling us into a warm embracing hug.

“Are you all right, man? Kanye West asked us.

We nodded, and then another member of the press walked up and pointed at The Observer.

“Don’t trust this guy,” the reporter laughed.

“Hey,” Kanye West said. “I don’t trust myself.”

nfreeman [at] observer.com | @nfreeman1234

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Kanye Hugged: A Little Moment With Mr. West at the George Condo Opening