Published on the occasion of the comprehensive retrospective General Idea at the National Gallery of Canada, Ontario, and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2022–2023), this volume constitutes the most complete source on the Canadian collective General Idea, founded in Toronto in 1969 by Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, and AA Bronson, and active until the death of Partz and Zontal in 1994.
Conceived by AA Bronson in close collaboration with designer Garrick Gott and editor Adam Welch, the design is integral to the publication’s overall concept. Each section has a distinct visual identity and graphic treatment. Moreover, the book itself functions as a kind of edition, evoking General Idea’s characteristic preoccupation with borrowing and redeploying cultural phenomena: here, the museum exhibition catalogue. At once complicit and critical, the book is an extension of the group’s strategy of subversive interventions into art world systems.
General Idea (1969–1994) were pioneers of conceptual and media art whose work attained international prominence through the art world and the streets in equal measure. The ground-breaking collective practice of AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal spanned twenty-five years, addressing aspects of mass media, consumer culture, queer identity, the art economy and the AIDS crisis. They remain some of the most influential artists to have emerged from Canada.
The publication features a prologue by AA Bronson, a conversation between AA Bronson and Beatrix Ruf, and newly commissioned texts by established scholars—all offering new primary source texts on General Idea. The appendix includes a complete scholarly bibliography, exhibition and performance histories, and an illustrated chronology of the group—newly edited and compiled for the first time.
This monumental publication presents a visual survey of General Idea’s artworks, from their earliest performances and actions to their use of consumer and advertising media in the public realm to their gallery and museum work. Including more than 500 illustrations and texts by a range of scholars, it is the definitive resource on General Idea.