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General Idea Life & Work by Sarah E.K. Smith

The works of General Idea are held in public and private collections internationally. The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, is a prime location at which to learn more about the group, as the gallery has a large collection of their work, and its Library and Archives holds issues of FILE Megazine, as well as the General Idea fonds and the Art Metropole Collection.

Many of General Idea’s works were produced as multiples in editions of various sizes. Noted below is a selection of institutions that hold at least one multiple in their respective collections. Although the following institutions hold the works listed, they may not always be on view.



Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Queen’s University
36 University Avenue
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
613-533-2190
agnes.queensu.ca

In addition to the work featured here, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre holds a large collection of General Idea’s print editions.


General Idea, General Idea’s Putti, 1993Found seal-shaped soaps on printed pulpboard
4 x 8.5 (diam.) cm


Art Gallery of Ontario

317 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
1-877-255-4246 or 416-979-6648
ago.net

In the early 1990s the Art Gallery of Ontario began acquiring a definitive collection of General Idea, covering their twenty-five years of output and distinct periods of work. The gallery was able to acquire one major work and a group of minor works for each period. Since that time the AGO has continued to add General Idea works to its collection and has recently added an archival collection of invitation cards, source books, catalogues, and smaller editions to its in-depth holdings.


General Idea, Mimi, 1968–69Fluorescent acrylic and latex on canvas
301 x 201.8 cm

General Idea, Artist’s Conception: Miss General Idea 1971, 1971Serigraph on wove paper
101.5 x 66 cm

General Idea, Manipulating the Self (Manipulating the Scene), 1973Colour offset photolithograph on wove paper
73.8 x 58.5 cm
General Idea, Showcard Series, 1975–79 Serigraphed cards with photographs 
Each card 45.7 x 35.6 cm
General Idea, Colour Bar Lounge, 1979Aluminum, glass, colour photographs, and printed cards 
Wall unit: 63.5 x 377 cm, floor unit: 101.3 x 380 x 24 cm 
General Idea, The Boutique from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, 1980 Galvanized metal and Plexiglas, containing various General Idea multiples, prints, posters, and publications
153.7 x 339.1 x 259.1 cm
General Idea, General Idea’s Nazi Milk Glass from the Colour Bar Lounge, 1980Drinking glass with offset adhesive label in plastic box with gold hot-stamping
Box: 15.3 x 10 (diam.) cm, glass: 15 x 9.2 (diam.) cm

General Idea, XXX (bleu), 1984Installation resulting from a performance
Set of three acrylic on canvas, each 493.5 x 296 x 250 cm
Set of three poodle mannequins, straw, synthetic fur, acrylic, each standard breed size 74 x 20 x 77 cm
Overall installation 350 x 988 x 143.5 cm
General Idea, AIDS, 1988–90AIDS paintings, 1988, acrylic on canvas, each 243.7 x 243.7 cm
AIDS (Wallpaper), 1990, screen print on wallpaper, rolled 68.6 x 4.6 (diam.) cm, unrolled 457 x 68.6 cm
Overall installation dimensions variable
General Idea, AIDS Ring, 1993/96Sterling silver in black velvet–covered jewellery box, title card (photocopy on vellum), in white-card box
Box: 7 x 6 x 4.5 cm, various ring sizes
General Idea, XXX Voto (for the Spirit of Miss General Idea), 1995 Offset publication, 128 pages, colour reproductions, black-linen hardcover with blue hot-stamping
14.5 x 11 cm

FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais

503 Avenue des Bancs de Flandres
Dunkirk, France
+33 (0)3 28 65 84 20
francnpdc.fr/


General Idea, General Idea’s Nazi Milk Glass from the Colour Bar Lounge, 1980Drinking glass with offset adhesive label in plastic box with gold hot-stamping
Box: 15.3 x 10 (diam.) cm, glass: 15 x 9.2 (diam.) cm

General Idea, Test Pattern: T.V. Dinner Plate, 1988Porcelain plate in cardboard box, label offset on paper
Box: 24.5 x 31 x 2.8 cm, plate: 20 x 22.5 x 1.5 cm
General Idea, Eye of the Beholder, 1989 Chenille, embroidery on crest-shaped felt
24 x 21 cm
General Idea, AIDS Ring, 1993/96Sterling silver in black velvet–covered jewellery box, title card (photocopy on vellum), in white-card box
Box: 7 x 6 x 4.5 cm, various ring sizes
General Idea, General Idea’s Putti, 1993Found seal-shaped soaps on printed pulpboard
4 x 8.5 (diam.) cm

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House

Art Museum at the University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
416-978-8398
artmuseum.utoronto.ca


General Idea, Melting Snow Crystal Virus #4, 1992Mixed media
78 x 63 cm

Kunsthaus Zürich

Heimplatz 1
CH–8001 Zürich, Switzerland
+41 (0)44 253 84 84
kunsthaus.ch


General Idea, Test Tube, 1979Video, 28 min., 15 sec.
General Idea, Cornucopia, 1982Video, 10 min.

General Idea, Shut the Fuck Up, 1985 
Video, 14 min.

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

185 Ste-Catherine Street West
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
514-847-6226
macm.org/en


General Idea, Manipulating the Self (Manipulating the Scene), 1973Colour offset photolithograph on wove paper
73.8 x 58.5 cm
General Idea, Cornucopia, 1982Video, 10 min.
General Idea, Shut the Fuck Up, 1985 Video, 14 min.

Musée Léon Dierx

Rue Sainte-Marie
Saint-Denis, Île de la Réunion, Africa
+33 2 62 20 24 82


General Idea, Baby Makes 3, 1984/89  Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
76.9 x 63.1 cm

Musée national d’art moderne

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Place Georges Pompidou
Paris, France
+33 (0)1 44 78 12 33
centrepompidou.fr/en


General Idea, ¥en Boutique, 1989 Various multiples, honeycomb aluminum, enamel paint, three aluminum tripods, video elements (Test Tube or alternate)
212 x 315 x 348 cm

Museum of Modern Art

111 West 53 Street
New York, New York, USA
212-708-9400
moma.org

The Museum of Modern Art holds a very large collection of General Idea’s editions in various media and also holds major installations.


General Idea, Artist’s Conception: Miss General Idea 1971, 1971Screenprint on brown latex
101.5 x 66 cm

General Idea, Manipulating the Self (Manipulating the Scene), 1973Colour offset photolithograph on wove paper
73.8 x 58.5 cm
General Idea, Test Tube, 1979Video, 28 min., 15 sec.

General Idea, Shut the Fuck Up, 1985Video, 14 min.
General Idea, Eye of the Beholder, 1989 Chenille, embroidery on crest-shaped felt
24 x 21 cm
General Idea, Magi© Bullet, 1992Silver helium-filled mylar balloons
Each 25 x 65 x 25 cm (inflated)
General Idea, AIDS Ring, 1993/96Sterling silver in black velvet–covered jewellery box, title card (photocopy on vellum), in white-card box
Box: 7 x 6 x 4.5 cm, various ring sizes
General Idea, XXX Voto (for the Spirit of Miss General Idea), 1995 Offset publication, 128 pages, colour reproductions, black-linen hardcover with blue hot-stamping
14.5 x 11 cm

National Gallery of Canada

380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
613-990-1985
gallery.ca

The National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives has three distinct archival holdings that contain a wealth of material related to General Idea. These are the Art Metropole Collection, the General Idea Collection, and the Fern Bayer fonds. In addition to these, the museum holds a group of major installations dating from the early 1970s to the 1990s.


General Idea, The 1971 Miss General Idea Pageant, 1971Poster, photo screen print on wove paper
101.6 x 66 cm
General Idea, Double Mirror Video (A Borderline Case), 1971Black and white videotape, 5 min., 50 sec.
General Idea, Manipulating the Self (Manipulating the Scene), 1973 Colour offset photolithograph on wove paper
73.8 x 58.5 cm
General Idea, Showcard Series, 1975–79Serigraphed cards with photographs
Each card 45.7 x 35.6 cm
General Idea, Pilot, 1977 Video, 28 min., 56 sec.
General Idea, Reconstructing Futures, 1977Installation, mixed media
Overall installation 274 x 432 x 1,017 cm

General Idea, Test Tube, 1979 Video, 28 min., 15 sec.
General Idea, General Idea’s Test Tube, 1980 Photolithograph on wove paper
61.1 x 45.7 cm
General Idea, Self-Portrait with Objects, 1981–82 Gelatin silver print
35.6 x 27.7 cm
General Idea, Cornucopia, 1982Video, 10 min.
General Idea, Shut the Fuck Up, 1985 Video, 14 min.
General Idea, AIDS, 1989 Powder-coated metal (steel), with stickers, felt pen, and assorted items added by the public
201 x 198.8 x 100.5 cm
General Idea, Nightschool, 1989 Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
95.5 x 76.7 cm
General Idea, One Day of AZT, 1991 Five units of Fiberglas and enamel  
Each 85 x 213.3 x 85 cm
General Idea, One Year of AZT, 1991 1,825 units of vacuum-formed styrene with vinyl wall-mounted capsules 
Each 12.7 x 31.7 x 6.3 cm
General Idea, Playing Doctor, 1992 Lacquer on vinyl
225 x 150 cm
General Idea, AIDS Ring, 1993/96Sterling silver in black velvet–covered jewellery box, title card (photocopy on vellum), in white-card box
Box: 7 x 6 x 4.5 cm, various ring sizes
General Idea, Fin de Siècle, 1994 Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
79 x 55.7 cm

Sammlung Falckenberg 

Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Wilstorfer Straße 71, Tor 2
Hamburg, Germany
0049 (0) 40 3250 6762
sammlung-falckenberg.de

The Sammlung Falckenberg/Deichtorhallen Hamburg has a very fine collection of major works from the 1980s and 1990s, especially one of General Idea’s large-scale pill installations, Red (Cadmium) PLA©EBO, 1991, and a complete set of the group’s self-portraits.


General Idea, Nazi Milk, 1979–90Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
78.9 x 58.6 cm

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 3rd Street 
San Francisco, California
415-357-4000
sfmoma.org


General Idea, Cornucopia: Fragments from the Room of Unknown Function in the Villa Die Misteri of the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, 1982–83Video installation, various elements with videotape Cornucopia, 1982 
Overall installation 243.8 x 426.7 x 243.8 cm

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Museumplein 10
Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 (0)20 5732 911
stedelijk.nl


General Idea, Pilot, 1977 Video, 28 min., 56 sec.
General Idea, Test Tube, 1979Video, 28 min., 15 sec.
General Idea, Nightschool, 1989 Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
95.5 x 76.7 cm

University of Lethbridge Art Gallery

4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
403-329-2666
uleth.ca/artgallery


General Idea, The Unveiling of the Cornucopia (A Mural Fragment from the Room of the Unknown Function in the Villa Dei Misteri of the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavilion), 1982Enamel on plasterboard and plywood
Five panels, each 244 x 122 cm
General Idea, Shut the Fuck Up, 1985 Video, 14 min.

University of Toronto Art Centre

Art Museum at the University of Toronto
15 King’s College Circle
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
416-946-8687 
artmuseum.utoronto.ca

The University of Toronto Art Centre has a collection that includes prints, posters, multiples, and ephemera spanning General Idea’s twenty-five-year career.


General Idea, Artist’s Conception: Miss General Idea 1971, 1971Screen print on buff paper
101.5 x 66 cm

General Idea, The 1971 Miss General Idea Pageant, 1971Poster, photo screen print on wove paper
101.6 x 66 cm
General Idea, General Idea’s Nazi Milk Glass from the Colour Bar Lounge, 1980Drinking glass with offset adhesive label in plastic box with gold hot-stamping
Box: 15.3 x 10 (diam.) cm, glass: 15 x 9.2 (diam.) cm

General Idea, General Idea’s Test Tube, 1980 Photolithograph on wove paper
61.1 x 45.7 cm
General Idea, Test Pattern: T.V. Dinner Plate, 1988Porcelain plate in cardboard box, label offset on paper
Box: 24.5 x 31 x 2.8 cm, plate: 20 x 22.5 x 1.5 cm
General Idea, Eye of the Beholder, 1989 Chenille, embroidery on crest-shaped felt
24 x 21 cm
General Idea, XXX Voto (for the Spirit of Miss General Idea), 1995 Offset publication, 128 pages, colour reproductions, black-linen hardcover with blue hot-stamping
14.5 x 11 cm

Vancouver Art Gallery

750 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
604-662-4719
vanartgallery.bc.ca


General Idea, Nazi Milk, 1979–90Chromogenic print (Ektachrome)
78.9 x 58.6 cm

General Idea, Three Graces: Mural Fragment from the Villa Dei Misteri, 1982Latex enamel on wood
246 x 218 x 5 cm

General Idea, Test Pattern: T.V. Dinner Plate, 1988Porcelain plate in cardboard box, label offset on paper
Box: 24.5 x 31 x 2.8 cm, plate: 20 x 22.5 x 1.5 cm