General Idea

GENERAL IDEA "DOWN THE DRINK" CHENILLE CREST, 1988

In 1967, General Idea was founded 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.

General Idea was both prolific and multi-disciplinary long before it became de rigueur. Together, they worked with photography, sculpture, painting, mail art, video, installation, multiples, and performance. The group also made a significant number of unconventional editioned works and was inspired by the idea of the anti-art object. 

Thematic continuity was a key element in General Idea's work. Early on they introduced talismans or logos that they would revisit and re-envision, including skulls, ziggurats, and poodles. 

They were particularly interested in (European) crests used for centuries to represent a city, district, or even a creative or professional guild. General Idea both appropriated and reinterpreted existing crests (often by replacing a lion with a poodle) as well as creating ones that were entirely of their own imagination.  

Between 1988 and 1989, General Idea created 8 chenille crests with some of their most iconic motifs. These crests combined their traditional European antecedents and the aesthetics of high-school sports teams and varsity jackets. 

"Down the Drink" is a cobalt crest featuring three horizontal cocktail glasses, all tipped over, with their contents spilling out in a cascade of voluminous droplets. The droplets pour over into a body of rolling waves, where their peaks are disguised (or possibly reveal themselves) as threatening shark fins. (This motif also appears as a screenprint in the "Fear Management" series.)

No stranger to double entendres, General Idea uses the phrase "Down the Drink" to describe disposing of the liquid, rather than joyously consuming it. It is worth mentioning that the idea of beverages and consumption make repeated appearances in General Idea's oeuvre including "Nazi Milk", "Magic Palette", and "Test Tube". 

While these crests were intended to be an unlimited edition, according to the General Idea Editions catalog raisonné, less than 100 were produced (because the manufacturer went bankrupt). In 2010 AA Bronson would reissue these crests, however, the quality was far inferior to the originals and the colors used were significantly reduced. Serious collectors pursue the original crests, offered here. 

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"Down the Drink"

USA, 1988

Chenille, embroidery on crest-shaped felt

From an unrealized edition, less than 100 produced

9"H 8.25"W (crest)

12.25"H 11.5"W (framed)

Newly framed with museum glass

Very good condition.

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Occasionally we will recommend that an artwork be removed from its frame for shipping. Larger framed works are typically framed with plexiglass. We export over 80% of what we sell, so we are comfortable shipping anywhere. 

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