paris

Spread from FILE Megazine 3, no. 1 (Fall 1975). Rodney Werden, portrait of General Idea. From left: Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, AA Bronson.

General Idea

Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

Spread from FILE Megazine 3, no. 1 (Fall 1975). Rodney Werden, portrait of General Idea. From left: Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, AA Bronson.

According to Frank Zappa, “God made three big mistakes: The first mistake was called man. The second mistake was called wo-man. And the third mistake was the invention of the poodle.” Seeing “Haute Culture: General Idea, Une rétrospective 1969–1994” made one suspect that the consummate artist, as fashioned by General Idea, was part man, part woman, and part poodle.

The male part of this artist was created in 1975. A previously unpublished 1991 interview with General Idea in the catalogue to this recent exhibition reveals that the name first appeared in 1970, not 1968, as legend has it, and that GI initially cultivated an anonymous collective identity. The group reinvented itself as three men in 1975, when the pseudonymous AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal struck a pose as architects and ran the photo in the “Glamour” issue of FILE, GI’s own media outlet, founded in 1972.

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