General Idea


General Idea was founded in 1967 in Toronto by AA Bronson (b. 1946), Felix Partz (1945-1994), and Jorge Zontal (1944-1994). Over the course of 25 years, they made a significant contribution to postmodern and conceptual art in Canada and beyond.

With their subversive approach and interest in parody and appropriation, General Idea addressed a broad range of social and art-world issues including consumerism, media consumption, the cult of the artist, and AIDS.

General Idea was both prolific and multi-disciplinary (way before it became de rigueur) creating works in photography, sculpture, painting, mail art, video, performance, installations, and (perhaps most notably) editions.

‘Middelburg Tile’ was created in 1985 to coincide with the General Idea installation "Khroma Key Klub: the Blue Ruins from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion" and created for the exhibition "Remnants of the Miss General Idea Pavillion" in De Vleeshal, Middelburg, 1985. 

The boxed work contains General Idea's version of the Dutch Province of Zeeland’s shield, hand-painted on a ceramic tile, recalling classic Delft pottery. What once was a heroic lion rising up from crashing waves has been replaced with a curious poodle/mermaid hybrid. The poodle is a recurring symbol in General Idea’s practice that is both cute and subversive.

The work, housed in a custom box is accompanied by a catalog with blue-and-white images, another cheeky nod to historical Dutch aesthetics.

Click here to see another work where traditional Dutch iconography is replaced by General Idea's fey mischief. 

General Idea's dedication to creating multiples was linked to their interest in consumerism and art collecting/shopping. AA Bronson explained, “General Idea was at once complicit in and critical of the mechanisms and strategies that join art and commerce, a sort of mole in the art world.”

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

"Middelburg Tile"

Canada, 1985

Hand-painted ceramic tile and offset catalog, 22 pp.

From an edition of 200

7"H 7"W (tile)

8.25"H 8.25"W (box)

Published by De Vleeshal, Middelburg

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