Studio Sunday: General Idea
This Sunday, let’s look inside the studio and meeting space of Canadian art collective General Idea. General Idea comprised three artists: Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and A.A. Bronson. They were active as a collective between 1968 and 1993, working in Toronto and New York.
Artistically, General Idea were highly conceptual, using formats like postcards, stamps, posters, balloons, often associated with advertising and popular media, to create and distribute their work. They were highly critical of pop culture, but often used exaggerated pop-culture tropes to their advantage.
The studio pictured above was located on Yonge Street in Toronto. The space does have a very collaborative feel to it, and the office or library type of appearance seems in fitting with the more intangible nature of many of the collective’s works. I can picture the members of General Idea sitting around this table, working on an art piece or planning a happening.
The book shelf on the left side of the photo looks like it’s filled with pamphlets and magazines – I wonder if these would have been materials to inspire future projects, or if they were examples of the collective’s past work. I’m also really curious about the figure in the background of the photo – it appears to be someone wearing a dada-esque pyramid costume. Perhaps it’s just a mannequin?
General Idea were active throughout the AIDS crisis, using a long-running series of temporary public installations to address the matter directly. In 1974, the group founded Art Metropole, a space dedicated to housing and promoting artworks in non-traditional media. Partz and Zontal passed away from AIDS in 1994, while Bronson has continued to produce art independently.