Art (fine art)



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              General Idea
              GI1 · Person · 1969-1994

              The artist collective General Idea was formed in Toronto in 1969 by three Canadian artists known as Jorge Zontal, Feliz Partz, and AA Bronson, pseudonyms they adopted to better reflect their identities within the group. What began as an artistic collaboration between friends, lasted for 25 years until the death of two members in 1994.

              Jorge Zontal, originally named Slobodan Zaia-Levy, was born in a concentration camp in Parma, Italy, on January 28, 1944. After the end of the Second World War, Zontal and his mother reunited with his father, who was sent from Italy to Auschwitz. The family immigrated to Venezuela when Zontal was eight years old. In the 1960s, Zontal went to study architecture at Dalhousie University in Halifax, graduating in 1968. He also studied video at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, where he met Bronson, who was then teaching a workshop. A visit to Toronto made him move there permanently.

              Felix Partz, born Ronald Gabe, was born on April 23, 1944, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Partz studied Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba in the mid-1960s. He traveled to Toronto in the summer of 1969 to visit his friend at Rochdale College, when he decided to remain in the city.

              AA Bronson, born Michael Tims, was born on June 16, 1946, in Vancouver. In 1964, he enrolled in architecture studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Three years later, Bronson abandoned his studies to participate in building an alternative community that also produced the newspaper The Loving Couch Press, where he became a contributing editor. In 1969, Bronson settled at Rochdale College in Toronto.

              The same year, the three artists met at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. Shortly after that, Bronson, Zontal, and Partz founded the artist collective General Idea.

              During the group’s artistic career, they produced a wide variety of media-based artworks and installations commenting on popular culture, mass media, consumption, social inequalities, the AIDS crisis, and queer identity, among other topics. In 1971, General Idea created the fictional narrative Miss General Idea Pageant, satirizing glamour and commenting on beauty, fame, and the commercial process of the art world. In 1984, the group created The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, a bigger-scale event based on the Miss General Idea narrative from 1971, which included a series of architectural proposals for the installation of a pavilion. In 1972, they published the first issue of FILE Megazine, a publication that aimed to promote other artists’ works as well as General Idea’s major projects. The group released 26 issues, the last one was published in 1989. In 1986, General Idea produced a painting for an exhibition in support of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, featuring the word AIDS in the style of Robert Indiana’s 1966 work LOVE, which was highly popular and appeared in a wide variety of formats such as keychains, napkins, postage stamps, etc. General Idea’s intention in creating the AIDS painting in the same style as LOVE was for it to spread like a virus and raise awareness of the AIDS crisis. The AIDS painting was later produced on a variety of different media, including sculpture, posters, wallpapers, and rings, and was used as a logo for AIDS campaigns in several cities such as New York, Berlin, and Toronto, and AIDS awareness became a central subject of the group’s work.

              General Idea’s innovative conceptual approach to art-making gave them widespread recognition, participating in 149 group exhibitions and 123 solo exhibitions around the world.

              General Idea remained active until the deaths of Jorge Zontal and Felix Partz on February 3, and June 5, 1994, respectively, from AIDS-related causes.