Starting 3 June and on view until 20 November 2022, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) will present the most comprehensive retrospective exhibition of General Idea to date.
Formed as part of 1960s counterculture, General Idea was a radical artist group founded in Toronto by AA Bronson (b. 1946), Felix Partz (1945–1994) and Jorge Zontal (1944–1994). Together they invented a ground-breaking and provocative multi-disciplinary practice that challenged social and artistic norms, and altered the development of postwar art over the course of 25 years – from the group’s formation in 1969 to the deaths in 1994 of both Partz and Zontal from AIDS-related illnesses.
This major retrospective of General Idea will bring together more than 200 works, including installations, painting, drawing, video, sculpture, publications and archival material, to explore the crucial role General Idea played in the development of art and activism in Canada, the United States and Europe. The exhibition will also chart General Idea’s influence on future generations of creators, informing new ways of reimagining and changing our world through art.
Known for their anti-establishment outlook and their early involvement in punk, queer theory and AIDS activism, General Idea critiqued consumer culture and social inequities in their work, examining mass media, the art economy, queer identity and the AIDS crisis. Organised chronologically, the exhibition will examine General Idea’s total approach to art-making, showing they were artists, performers, architects, publishers, shopkeepers, anthropologists and more.
The exhibition is curated by Adam Welch, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Canadian Art, NGC, with the close collaboration of AA Bronson. The exhibition will be accompanied by a major new publication which will stand as the definitive resource on General Idea.
On Saturday 4 June, a day-long symposium exploring the work of General Idea will take place at the National Gallery of Canada Auditorium and livestream on Zoom.
This exhibition will tour to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and another European venue in 2023.
3 June – 20 November 2022
National Gallery of Canada (NGC)
380 Sussex Drive