Exhibition — March until july 2023

The Canadian artists Felix Partz (1945–1994), Jorge Zontal (1944–1994) and AA Bronson (b. 1946) were active as General Idea from 1969 to 1994. Witty and eccentric, General Idea tells the story of a group whose brilliant output not only resonated in their own time, but also laid the foundation for future generations of creators, informing new ways of reimagining our world through art. This most comprehensive retrospective on the trio ever brings together more than 200 works (major installations, publications, videos, drawings, paintings, sculptures and archival material), is organized by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum and is curated by Adam Welch, National Gallery of Canada, and Beatrix Ruf for the Stedelijk and Gropius Bau, Berlin.

Black and white photograph, artists
General Idea, Self-portrait with Objects, 1981–82, Collectie National Gallery of Canada. © General Idea. Foto: National Gallery of Canada

Addressing various aspects of mass media, consumer culture, social inequalities, queer identity, the art economy and the AIDS crisis, through playful critique, surprising appropriations and satire, they pushed boundaries, profoundly altering the course of postwar art.

The Stedelijk began acquiring the collective’s work in 1980, and expanded its holdings with significant purchases, including AIDS Wallpaper and Infe©ted Mondrian. Furthermore, part of the collective’s archive was donated to the museum, making the Stedelijk the European knowledge centre. This survey was curated by Beatrix Ruf, former director of the Stedelijk, for the Stedelijk and in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

General Idea, AIDS Wallpaper, 1989. Coll. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam en Centraal Museum

This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Curated by Adam Welch, National Gallery of Canada, and Beatrix Ruf for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.