Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson founded the artist group General Idea in 1967. The three Canadian artists lived and worked together as a collective until 1994 and were active in Toronto and New York. The General Idea archive is now part of the library of the National Gallery of Canada, Toronto. Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal died of AIDS in 1994. AA Bronson taught at the University of California (UCLA), Los Angeles and the Yale School of Art, New Haven, was founding director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York, USA from 2006 to 2011, and initiated the annual NY Art Book Fair in 2005. In 2009, he founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which he now directs. AA Bronson has received numerous awards and three honorary doctorates. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2011, the French government awarded him the title Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada and Berlin, Germany.
As early pioneers of conceptual art, General Idea became known for their exploration of forms of popular media and mass culture. From 1972 to 1989, they published FILE magazine, a subversive concept for subverting mainstream media and culture. In 1974, they founded "Art Metropole" in Toronto, a distribution center and archive for artists' books, audio and video materials, and multiples, which they conceived as a store and archive and "Gesamtkunstwerk." To disseminate their work, the artists produced a whole range of low-cost multiples to democratize art, and chose unconventional print formats for mass production such as postcards, posters, wallpaper, as well as classic advertising media such as balloons and pins. From 1987 to 1994, General Idea engaged early on in AIDS issues, punk, and queer theory, and carried out interventions in public spaces as activists.read more read less