General Idea emerged in the aftermath of the Paris riots, from the detritus of hippy communes, underground newspapers, radical education, happenings, love-ins, Marshall McLuhan, and the International Situationists. We believed in a free economy, in the abolition of copyright, and a grass roots horizontal structure that prefigured the internet…
When Jorge, Felix, and I began living and working together as General Idea in 1969, we were already aware of two opposing forces in our life: the desire to produce art, and the desire to survive. And in a sort of natural inflection of the conceptual and process art which immediately preceded us, we turned to the idea of incorporating the commerce of art and the economy of the art world into the art itself. — AA Bronson*
The National Gallery of Canada celebrates a quarter century of provocation and art by General Idea—Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, and AA Bronson—in the collective’s most comprehensive retrospective to date. Active from the end of the sixties through the mid-nineties, General Idea accelerated the flows of Conceptualism, playing with time/image and injecting their institutional critique with camp humor.
A 700-page exhibition catalog will accompany the show, edited by Adam Welch, with contributions by David Balzer, Diedrich Diederichsen, Dominic Johnson, Theodore Kerr, Alex Kitnick, Sholem Krishtalka, Élisabeth Lebovici, Philip Monk, Diana Nemiroff, Beatrix Ruf, and Bronson.
The exhibition—curated by Adam Welch for the National Gallery of Canada and by guest curator Beatrix Ruf for Stedelijk Museum and Gropius Bau—travels to Amsterdam and Berlin in 2023. See links below for details.
Through November 20, 2022
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Through July 16, 2023
Museumplein 10, Amsterdam
September 22, 2023 through January 14, 2024
Niederkirchnerstrasse 7, Berlin
*AA Bronson, “Copyright, Cash, and Crowd Control: Art and Economy in the Work of General Idea,” in Art & Economy, edited by Zdenek Felix, Beate Hentschel, and Dirk Luckow (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2002); reprinted in the 2022 issue of National Gallery of Canada Review.
General Idea, from top: Line Project, 1970, performance for the camera, gelatin silver prints, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, gift of General Idea Inc., Toronto, 2019, photograph National Gallery of Canada; P is for Poodle, 1983/1989, image General Idea Archives, Berlin; AIDS, 1987, acrylic on canvas, private collection, photograph by Blondeau & Cie; INFE©TED Mondrian #11, 1994/2019, acrylic on gatorboard, Defares Collection, photograph by Toni Hafkenscheid; Self-portrait with Objects, 1981–82, montage, gelatin silver print, National Gallery of Canada, AA Bronson (left), Jorge Zontal, and Felix Partz; FILE Megazine, vol. 1, no. 1 (Mr. Peanut), April 15, 1972, offset periodical, Art Metropole Collection, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, Ottawa, gift of Jay A. Smith, Toronto, 1999, photograph General Idea Archives, Berlin; One Year of AZT, 1991, 1,825 units, vacuum-formed styrene, vinyl, National Gallery of Canada, and One Day of AZT, 1991, 5 units, fiberglass, National Gallery of Canada, gift of Patsy and Jamie Anderson, Toronto, 2001; Artist’s Conception: Miss General Idea 1971, 1971, silkscreen on paper, Art Metropole Collection, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, gift of Jay A. Smith, Toronto, 1999; Snobird: A Public Sculpture for The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, 1985, polyethylene bleach bottles, monofilament, courtesy Carmen Lamanna Gallery Collection, Toronto, installation view General Idea, National Gallery of Canada, 2022, photograph National Gallery of Canada.
Images © General Idea, courtesy of the artists and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.