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.

The group was both prolific and multi-disciplinary long before it became de rigueur. They worked with a wide range of media including photography, sculpture, painting, mail art, video, installations, multiples, and performance.   

With their subversive approach and interest in parody and appropriation, General Idea addressed a broad range of social (and art-world) issues such as the cult of the artist, mass media, queer identity, and consumerism.

In 1970, General Idea debuted the Miss General Idea Pageant, a conceptual parody pageant that subverted traditional beauty contests through absurd documented performances and related objects. Through various mediums and iterations, The Miss General Idea Pageant endured for nearly two decades. 

"Test Tube" was related to the 1984 Miss General Idea Pageant Pavilion. Initially introduced as a satirical soap opera, General Idea explored the concept of the Pavilion's Colour Bar Lounge as a cultural laboratory where they experiment with how art is consumed. 

This lithograph features a research participant drinking from a test tube at the Pavilion's Colour Bar Longe while text from the video reads vertically, framing their figure. It is worth mentioning that the idea of beverages and consumption make repeated appearances in General Idea's oeuvre including "Nazi Milk" and "Magic Palette".

In 2022, the National Gallery of Canada held a major retrospective of the group's work, which has since traveled to Amsterdam and opened at the Gropius Bau in Berlin during the fall of 2023.

Two of the members, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal died of AIDS in 1994. General Idea's surviving member, AA Bronson, continues to practice as an independent artist and oversees the representation, exhibition, and reedition of General Idea’s work internationally.  

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“Test Tube”

Canada, 1980

Offset lithograph on paper

Signed (rubber-stamped) and numbered

Edition of 96

24.25"H 18"W (work)

27"H 21"W (framed)

Published by Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto

Very good condition.

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