The Boutique from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion is an installation that functions as a retail space, playing with ideas of art and commerce while also challenging the viewer’s typical gallery experience. Taking the form of a three-dimensional dollar sign made of metal, the Boutique was designed to sell General Idea multiples and publications. Many of these multiples, made specifically for and simultaneously with the Boutique. By embedding commerce within the gallery—and art within commerce—General Idea challenged the idea of the museum as a pure space, uninfected by buying and selling. As curator Lillian Tone explains, the Boutique predates a trend now common within museums: “Made at a time when the sound of cashiers still seemed outlandish in the immaculate environment of the exhibition space,” she states, “the Boutique presaged the increasing pervasiveness of temporary shops occupying space once exclusively assigned to art.
General Idea: 13 Works That Changed Our Definition of Art
General Idea, The Boutique from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, 1980
Galvanized metal and Plexiglas, with various works, 153.7 x 339.1 x 259.1 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario