General Idea was a collective of three Canadian artists, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson, who were active from 1967 to 1994. As pioneers of early conceptual and media-based art, their collaboration became a model for artist-initiated activities and continues to be a prominent influence on subsequent generations of artists.
Initially working in Toronto, from 1968 through 1993 they divided their time between Toronto and New York before returning to Toronto for the last few months of their time together.
General Idea's work inhabited and subverted forms of popular and media culture, including beauty pageants, boutiques, television talk shows, trade fair pavilions and mass media. Their work was often presented in unconventional media forms such as postcards, prints, posters, wallpaper, balloons, crests and pins. From 1987 through 1994 their work addressed the AIDS crisis, with work that included some 75 temporary public art projects. Their major installation, One Year of AZT/One Day of AZT, was featured as a project at the Museum of Modern Art and now resides in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. In 2006 the three giant inflatable pills from their 1991 work PLA©EBO were displayed during Toronto's Nuit blanche.
After publishing FILE magazine for two years and amassing a large collection of artists books and multiples, General Idea founded Art Metropole in 1974, a non-profit space dedicated to contemporary art in multiple format: artists books, multiples, video, audio and electronic media.
Retrospectives of General Idea's work continue to tour Europe and North America. General Idea Editions: 1967-1995 was featured at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain from 30 January - 1 April 2007 , and included a recreation of the installations Magic Bullet and Magic Carpet, as well as the major installation Fin de Siècle. Before that Editions was exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Munich Kunstverein, Kunstwerke (Berlin), and the Kunsthalle in Zurich, Switzerland. General Idea has been featured in the Paris, Sydney, São Paulo and Venice Biennales, as well as at Documenta 10 in Kassel, Germany.
Both Partz and Zontal died of AIDS in 1994. Bronson continues to work and exhibit as an independent artist, and was the director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York between 2006 and 2011. The General Idea Archive now resides at the Library of the National Gallery of Canada.
- Eye, No. 30, Vol. 8, Winter 1998.
- Ehrenstein, David (2005). "Canadian Art". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture.
- Website on General Idea
- General Idea
- AA Bronson
- Biography on General Idea and list of video works by the group at Electronic Arts Intermix eai.org.