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General Idea at the National Gallery of Canada

General Idea, P is for Poodle, 1983. © General Idea. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Witty and eccentric, General Idea conceived thought-provoking content that dared to critique the entire art-market system, including the museum itself. Their work not only resonated in their own time, but has continued to inspire today’s artists, activists, cultural commentators, and social-media influencers. Addressing various aspects of mass media, consumer culture, social inequalities, queer identity, the art economy, and the AIDS crisis, often through satire, they pushed boundaries, profoundly altering the course of postwar art.

In the most comprehensive retrospective on the trio ever produced, the National Gallery of Canada brings together over 200 works exploring General Idea’s career, from their early days emerging from late 1960s counterculture, to the acclaimed IMAGEVIRUS series which permeated the media landscape in the late 1980s, and which culminated in the deeply moving final works of their last years.

Presenting major installations as well as publications, videos, drawings, paintings, sculptures and archival material, General Idea tells the story of a group whose brilliant output laid the foundation for future generations of creators, informing new ways of reimagining and changing our world through art.

The monumental new 760-page publication, GENERAL IDEA, explores the works in the exhibition, along with General Idea’s performances and actions, and their use of consumer and advertising media in the public realm. Profusely illustrated, it will stand as the definitive General Idea resource.

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada.