The first retrospective devoted to the Canadian collective General Idea, "High Culture: General Idea" uses a selection of some three hundred works to provide a dynamically comprehensive overview of the œuvre – an œuvre still haunted by Miss General Idea, a fictive character who was at once muse and object, image and concept.
Founded in Toronto in 1969 by Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal ,– both dead in 1994 – and AA Bronson, the trio adopted a generic identity that "freed it from the tyranny of individual genius". Their complex intermingling of reality and fiction took the form of a scathing, transgressive and often parodic take on art and society.
Treating the image as a virus infiltrating every aspect of the real world, General Idea set out to colonise it, modify its content and so come up with an alternative version of reality.
This non-chronological presentation covers the collective's main areas of concern. Themes such as the artist and the creative process, glamour as a creative tool, art's links with the media and mass culture, architecture and archaeology are addressed. Sexuality as the symbol of a social system to be subverted, and AIDS, as explored in the iconic, tentacular project of that name, are also considered.
Paintings, installations, sculptures, photographs, videos, magazines and a TV programme: this exhibition goes to the heart of an authentically multimedia œuvre that has lost nothing of its freshness and can now be seen as anticipating certain aspects of a current art scene undergoing radical transformation.
The exhibition has been created and organized by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in collaboration with the Art gallery of Ontario.
With the support of Air Canada
Director : Fabrice Hergott
Exhibition curators : Frédéric Bonnet and Odile Burluraux