General Idea

Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich (G21)

General Idea was an artist collective founded by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal started in 1969. Jorge and Felix both died in 1994, bringing the collaboration to an end.

General Idea stood in opposition to the idea of the artist as an individual genius. Similarly, the idea of the artwork as a masterpiece or spectacle was something that General Idea worked against for over 25 years together. They purposely produced works that were often small and intimate, produced in untraditional, cheap or disposable media, and they questioned the entire distribution system of art, opting often for more contemporary forms of distribution. They produced stamps in response to the AIDS crisis, which were initially distributed within the pages of a magazine, with the idea that they could be used as postage stamps and distributed further through the postal system.

The presentation brings together 21 exemplary examples of General Idea's strategic works; these are often apparently insignificant, often editioned or even unlimited editions, often using commercial processes and often proposing systems of distribution that lie outside of art world norms. The earliest artworks dates from 1967, two years before General Idea formally came together. The latest pieces are from 1994, the year that Partz and Zontal died. The stand is completely wallpapered in General Idea’s Infe©ted Coeurs Volants, inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s cover design for Cahiers d’Art, Paris, XI:1, 2 (1936)—an early prototype for the idea of distributing an artwork through the medium of a magazine.